Sitka Sound herring harvest remains static for 2017

From Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game, 12/12/16


The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced today the guideline harvest level (GHL) for the 2017 Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery is 14,649 tons based on a 20% harvest rate of a forecast mature biomass of 73,245 tons.

Watching the herring fishery at Sitka Sound Credit: Juneau Empire

Watching the herring fishery at Sitka Sound
Credit: Juneau Empire

The forecast indicates that the mature biomass in 2017 will consist of 6% age-3, 6% age-4, 73% age-5, 2% age-6, 6% age-7, and 7% age-8+.

This forecast uses spring commercial purse seine weights at age from last year’s fishery and the average weights were as follows: age-3, 64 grams; age-4, 95 grams; age- 5, 104 grams; age-6, 132 grams; age-7, 149 grams; and age-8+, 178 grams.

This forecast will not be updated with winter test fishery weights as has been done in previous years. This change was made to save on costs associated with processing winter test samples and staff time developing and reporting an updated forecast and GHL. The accuracy of the forecast is not expected to be impacted significantly by not updating the model with the winter test fishery weights at age due to the relatively small variability seen in weight at age.

To forecast biomass, the department uses an age-structured assessment model with a long time series of egg abundance, and age composition data from department surveys conducted during and following the spring fishery.

Herring egg abundance is estimated using aerial surveys, designed to map the length of shoreline receiving spawn, and dive surveys, which are used to estimate the density of eggs and average width of the spawn. The department mapped 63.3 nautical miles of herring spawn in the Sitka Sound area during the spring of 2016, compared to the recent 10-year average of 65.0 nautical miles.

The estimated post-fishery spawning biomass in 2016 was 74,676 tons, the total sac roe harvest was 9,833 tons, and an additional 223 tons were harvested in personal use and test fisheries. Estimated age composition of spawning herring in 2016 was 2% age-3, 79% age-4, 2% age-5, 8% age-6, 1% age-7, and 8% age-8+.

The hindcast of 2016 mature biomass (pre-fishery biomass; 84,732 tons) exceeded the 2016 forecast (74,707 tons); this is primarily due to a re-estimation of the size of the 2012 cohort (age-3 fish in 2016) now that there are two years of data with which to estimate the size of that cohort.

The mature biomass forecast for 2017 is similar to the spawning biomass in 2016 because the increase in maturity of the 2012 and 2013 cohorts and the additional age-3 recruits in 2017 balance the decreases due to natural mortality.

Bristol Bay red king crab down 15%; Lots of October fishing going on

Fish Radio
Fishing updates, October
October 5, 2016                         bbay

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Lots going on in October out on the water-   king crab news and fishing updates after this —

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In October all kinds of fishing is going on or getting underway, and various forecasts start trickling in.  Notably, crabbers just learned the red king crab catch this year at Bristol Bay will be down 15 percent to just under 8.5 million pounds.  No word yet on the catch quotas for Bering Sea snow crab or the status of a Tanner crab fishery. Those fisheries open on October 15th.

In Southeast Alaska, the fall Dungeness crab fishery is underway and shrimpers are dropping pots for half a million pounds of big spot prawns.  Beam trawling also is ongoing for pink and coon stripe shrimp in several regions.

The troll fleet will be back out on the Southeast waters for the winter king salmon season starting October 11. They can take 45,000 kings through next April.
Just over a million pounds remain out of the 17 million pound halibut catch limit with one month remaining in the eight month season.

Big and small boats of various gear types are still out fishing for pollock, cod, flounders, rockfish, lingcod, scallops and more, and will right up to the end of the year.    Several hundred divers are plying the Panhandle waters for nearly one million pounds of sea cucumbers. Kodiak and the Westward region also have much smaller cuke fisheries.

Two boats are needed to drop pots for a Tanner crab test fishery in Prince William Sound through December. Contact Fish and Game in Cordova or Homer by October 14.

Looking ahead, the best guess for the 2017 harvest at Alaska’s biggest herring fishery at Togiak is down slightly to 26,170 tons.  Budget cuts have eliminated the science and stock estimates upon which the Togiak herring catches are based.

Find links to all of Alaska’s fish catches and more at our website

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. ( In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.