May 9, 2013 | Vol. 39, No. 19

Sitka herring near 10-year average for spawn miles

SITKA (AP) — Sitka Sound herring spawn measured close to the 10-year average for spawn miles, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Spawn miles are a measure of shoreline. The spawn from the massive congregations of herring turns the water white along shorelines white and can be detected from the air. Spawn miles are one of the figures that the department uses to determine the spawning biomass, along with width of spawn and egg deposition.

The department measured spawn at 61.4 nautical miles, more than five miles above the 55.9 miles recorded in 2012 and slightly under the recent 10-year average of 61.7 miles, said area management biologist Dave Gordon.

The sound saw two separate spawning events, Gordon said.

The Sitka Daily Sentinel reports the first began March 28 and ended April 7, with a total shoreline recorded during the initial spawn of 50.8 nautical miles.

A second spawn began April 15 and lasted through April 23, Gordon said.

The sac roe herring fishery in Sitka Sound produced 5,688 tons. The overall roe recovery was 13 percent, according to the department.

The guideline harvest level was 11,549 tons. However, when department biologists determined that mass spawning had started and searches could not find marketable schools to catch, they shut down the fishery before fishermen reached the target level.

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