Saturday, November 15, 2014

Potential Impacts of Pacific Salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) Hatcheries on Pacific Herring (Clupea pallasii) in Lynn Canal

Authors: Tyler Houseweart, Seth Brickey, Elise Christey, Sam Kurland, and Martina Miller

This paper was written as part of the 2011 Alaska Oceans Sciences Bowl high school competition. The conclusions in this report are solely those of the student authors.


The Lynn Canal Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii) population declined rapidly between 1971 and 1981, for reasons not completely understood. The population has not rebounded, and the Lynn Canal herring fishery has remained closed since 1982. It is unusual for herring populations to remain depressed for this length of time in the absence of a fishery. This suggests the presence of factors that are preventing the resurgence of the herring population. A number of possible factors have been hypothesized, including disease, increased predation by marine mammals, anthropogenic noise pollution, marine pollution, and habitat degradation. We discuss each of these hypotheses in turn, and suggest the presence of an additional factor. We hypothesize that a factor acting to keep the Lynn Canal herring population depressed is predation by, and competition with, Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) released from the Douglas Island Pink and Chum Macaulay salmon hatchery. We discuss the Lynn Canal ecosystem and the role of herring within it; herring are key component of the Lynn Canal food web. Therefore, it would be beneficial to the ecosystem if the population were to rebound. To that end, we establish a management plan. We present relevant background information pertaining to management, including information on herring fisheries, salmon fisheries, and the Douglas Island Pink and Chum hatchery. We propose that research be conducted to identify reasons why the population remains depressed, including the extent to which salmon compete with and prey upon Lynn Canal herring. We also recommend the establishment of a task force to discuss research findings and provide recommendations to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the Alaska Board of Fisheries. The goal of our recommendations is to facilitate a recovery of the Lynn Canal herring population and develop an ecosystem-based, multispecies approach to the management of the Lynn Canal.

Click here for content

Herring Return to Auke Bay: Significant spawn for first time in decades


At the end of June, herring returned to Auke Bay to spawn in significant numbers for the first time in more than 20 years — and though the ultimate success of the eggs remains to be seen, it’s a promising sign for those working to increase herring’s abundance in Lynn Canal and Southeast Alaska.

Lynn Canal herring stocks have been depressed for decades. For the last seven years until recently, first Lynn Canal and then Southeast herring stocks were under consideration for listing as an endangered species, but neither population was deemed distinct enough for the listing.

Click here for content

Saturday, March 28, 2009

2009 Sitka Herring Fishery in Alaska

March 28, 2009

"Watch Commercial Fishing Boats jockey for position, then race to the fishing grounds. Fast paced action."

Click here for video link

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Experts Worried About Depleted Herring Stocks


Kake elder Clarence Jackson says that when he was young, the seas near Sitka boiled with herring.

"The herring have disappeared in my lifetime," he told the House special committee on fisheries Tuesday.

Jackson and others told the lawmakers they believe Southeast's Pacific herring stocks are in trouble from past overfishing and present predation. And they don't believe the state is doing enough to help them recover.

Herring is an important element of Alaska Native subsistence. It's a bellwether species and a foundation of the ecosystem on which many other species depend. And it's a famously lucrative commercial fishery, in which a few boats can gross millions in minutes to an hour.

Thomas Thornton, an anthropologist at Oxford University, said that herring stocks were overfished in the first part of the 20th century. By the time Fish and Game started counting herring, they were already seriously depleted.

Click here for content

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Pacific Herring: Endangered Species Status Review

73 FR 66031, November 6, 2008. Notice of request for information, data, and comments pertinent to a risk assessment as part of a status review of the Southeast Alaska population of Pacific herring. Comment period through December 8, 2008.

73 FR 19824, April 11, 2008. Initiation of status review for Southeast Alaska Pacific Herring.

More information avaialable at NOAA Fisheries, Alaska Regional Office

Monday, August 18, 2008

City OKs Yankee Cove for Mine Use

City OKs Yankee Cove for mine use
Coeur plans to ferry workers from facility to Kensington project


"Coeur Alaska Inc. came a little closer to getting the Kensington gold and silver mine under way Tuesday with the city's modified approval of a marine facility at Yankee Cove.
Once the mine starts up, Coeur plans to bus mine workers to Yankee Cove, on Lynn Canal just past 33 Mile Glacier Highway, and ferry them from there to the mine site in Berners Bay, 45 miles northwest of Juneau. When marine weather is bad, Coeur will run people to the mine site in helicopters.
Various new permit conditions address oil spill prevention and cleanup.
Other conditions on the marine facility were carried over from its 2004 permit. In-water work is forbidden from March 1 to June 15 to protect spawning Pacific herring. Treated wood, creosote and other chemicals are controlled or forbidden on the site. Traffic to the facility is limited to six vehicles per hour."
Click here for content

Monday, July 7, 2008

Project Update

As of June, 2008, we have made the following progress on key project tasks:

  1. Completion of preliminary a literature review, annotated bibliography, and historical timeline.
  2. Local and Traditional Knowledge (LTK) interviews and focus groups with more than 60 consultants in the communities of Angoon, Craig/Klawock, Hoonah, Juneau/Douglas, Kake, Ketchikan/Saxman, Petersburg, and Sitka. We anticipate doing additional interviews.
  3. Compilation of archaeological site data and archaeofish records in Southeast AK
  4. Preliminary synthesis of herring massing, spawning, and harvest data from Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game and industry records (esp. herring reduction plants) into a GIS database and maps
  5. Integration of select cultural and environmental data layers in GIS for spatial analysis (e.g., ecological zones, bathymetry).
  6. Construction of a project web page( to disseminate information to local tribes and the public.

So far data collected reveal the strong cultural and ecological significance of herring in Southeast Alaska. Preliminary results also provide evidence of localized declines in herring stocks and spawning areas, which our sources attribute to a variety of factors, including overfishing, non-human predation, development, and environmental change. In addition we have mapped hundreds of miles of historical herring spawning habitat, much of which has not been previously documented in the scientific record. We look forward to completing interviews and data analysis by early 2009.