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(http://herringsynthesis.research.pdx.edu/research/index.html) 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.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Permit granted for construction of Lynn Canal highway

Alaska Public Radio Network
Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO - Juneau

Thu, June 19, 2008 Posted in Alaska News
The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers issued a permit Wednesday that allows the discharge of fill material into US waters, including forested wetlands, streams, and deep water habitat, to construct the road.

Click here for content

Sunday, May 25, 2008

My turn: State puts fish and fishing at risk

Juneau Empire.com
May 25, 2008

By Andy Rauwolf

"Coastal communities throughout Southeast Alaska with local and traditional knowledge of herring claim that historic stock levels have significantly declined due to factors that include over-harvesting, predation and climate changes.

Perhaps the factor presently having the greatest impact in this area may be attributed to predation. It appears that protected marine mammals are increasingly having a much larger impact on herring stocks than anyone could envision."

Click here for content

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Commercial Herring Management

SitNews: Stories in the News
May 08, 2008
Thursday PM

By Michael Baines

"I read the article by Andy Rauwolf: "An expose on the history and controversy surrounding commercial herring management in Southeast Alaskan fisheries (excluding Sitka Sound)." I was very interested because the state and fishermen seem intent on wiping out the Sitka Sound herring stocks. The state and fishermen are fond of saying that the herring biomass here is in fabulous condition and healthy as it has ever been. That is the farthest from the truth that they can possibly get. The schools were the smallest they have ever been that anybody here can remember, and the spawn was short in duration and area as well. ..."

Click here for content

Sunday, April 20, 2008

News from Sitka, April 20, 2008

Regarding a question about herring egg harvesting

Maybe with a part of a Kiks.adi story about Aak'wtaatseen (a man who became an Ixht' and lived to be older than 100 years). This happened long ago.

As a young boy Aak'wtaatseen became a salmon and traveled for several years with them until they returned to the stream where they were born. The legend goes something like this:
When the salmon he was with returned to Sitka Sound they came upon a large school of herring.
The two canoes exchanged insulting words with each other. The herring won the altercation when they said "we fed the people before you, we are the first to feed the people."
This refers to the fact that herring are the first to offer themselves to the people in the spring. The Lingit not only eat herring and their eggs all the time, they have always eaten herring and herring eggs. It is part of the annual life cycle for many thousands of years.

Today herring eggs are harvested and processed with ancient techniques and with modern tools. Hemlock branches are cut from the forest and placed in the ocean with an anchor to form a "nest" so that the schools of fish will be attracted and lay their sticky eggs on the needles and branches. The salt water soaks into the eggs, plumps them up and stops the stickiness so when we pull up the branches, after 2-3 days, we hopefully have 1" thick steaks of solid eggs. We also look for natural growths of hair kelp and macrosistis kelp to harvest when they have been coated with thick layers of eggs.

Long ago herring eggs were dried and traded with the interior Natives, along with sea mammal and fish oils which were very hard to come by in those areas. Those trade routes were called grease trails. Today people do still trade herring eggs with each other, but it is more of a delicacy now that Sitka is the last place on the west coast where they have an annual spawn.
Long ago herring eggs were eaten with hooligan and seal oil and today many also use butter and soy to dip the eggy chunks in. It looks like white caviar.

This year has been terrible for the traditional harvesters. We don't have much to share. Roby Littlefield, Sitka

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Herring in Lynn Canal Not Endangered Says NOAA's Fisheries Service

Ketchikan, Alaska
April 15, 2008

"Herring in Lynn Canal, near Juneau, Alaska, should not be listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act since they are similar to other herring populations in the area which are being considered for listing, according to NOAA's Fisheries Service..."

Click here for content

Monday, April 14, 2008

News from Sitka, April 14, 2008

We didn't get much herring eggs on branches this year. More than half of the branches we set were missing before the spawn was over. There seemed to be a lot of out of town boats that came here after the spawn started and left with a full deck, even before Sitka people could bring their eggs in. Our own chest freezer is 1/4 full with herring eggs. We usually have a full freezer by now, which would have lasted us through the year.
Sharing herring eggs is not a business for us. It is a way for us to thank others for helping us and a way to trade for other traditional foods from other areas. Shipping costs start at about $60 for a #50 box. Only once in a while do people have enough money to try to help us out with the freight, but there is even more cost involved in the harvest. We take off time from regular work for a week and the boat gas costs hundreds of dollars and we have to buy special equipment like rakes, clippers, rope, chainsaws, plastic totes and grappling hooks. We clean, cut and pack the eggs in ziplock bags to freeze so we can share with Elders and at community events through the year. I do believe that young people who can still physically do the work should help with the harvest or pay a share of the expense for gathering the eggs. You wouldn't expect an artist, weaver or carpenter to work for you for free. It is called respect. I was just hoping that the eggs that we gave away to Elders to say thank you are not being sold for personal profit because we paid a lot to gather and send them out to friends and family and WE certainly didn't make any money.
Maybe this is moot. We may not be able to share or trade for a while, anyway. The herring stocks are being mismanaged and everyone will probably be limited in harvesting for the next few years because of this years outragious overharvest by commercial boats. Thanks for listening. I don't mean to offend anyone but I don't know any other way to let people know about our problems. Roby Littlefield, Sitka

News from Sitka, April 10, 2008

No new spawn has been identified in the Sitka Sound today.

This is the first time in local memory that there has been no herring spawn along any of Halibut Point Road.

We are losing our herring the same way as Ketchikan and Juneau. How/Why is this happening to us? Roby Littlefield, Sitka

Friday, April 4, 2008

News from Sitka, April 4, 2008

Yesterday I found out that this particular boat was not the biggest set. The bigger one was this much and half again more. That largest set had 3.7 million pounds of herring in its net and it took almost 4 full days to process. Roby Littlefield, Sitka

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sitka fishermen strike herring mother lode

Anchorage Daily News
In two hauls, boats catch more than 10,000 tons
By ELIZABETH BLUEMINKebluemink@adn.com
Published: March 29th, 2008 12:49 AMLast Modified: March 29th, 2008 05:58 AM

"The huge hauls were mainly due to the unique spot the herring chose to spawn, said Treinen, who has been involved in the Sitka herring fishery for about a dozen years.

Very dense schools of herring appeared in very shallow water next to Kruzof Island right before the fishery opened at 2:25 p.m., he said. Some of the crowded fish seemed to be dying -- they turned belly up in the water before the fishery opened, he said.

Because the fish were in shallow water, about three fathoms deep, they couldn't dive to try to escape the nets. "We could contain bigger sets than we've ever been able to contain before," Treinen said.

The state Department of Fish and Game wouldn't have allowed two fishery openings if managers realized how many fish were getting caught, according to Eric Coonradt, the department's assistant area manager for commercial fisheries in Sitka.

As it turns out, the concern wasn't about violating harvest levels. The main concern was the ability of processors to handle so much fresh herring, Coonradt said."

Click here for content

Saturday, March 1, 2008


Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii) is a foundation and bellwether species for North Pacific marine ecosystems. Herring roe fisheries are among the most lucrative, competitive, and controversial in the region, often pitting commercial and subsistence users against one another. One reason for this is that productive spawning areas (and times) are limited and historical population dynamics and ecology of herring are not well understood. Yet many communities with local and traditional knowledge (LTK) of herring fisheries claim that historical stocks were larger and spawning areas more numerous, but that they have dwindled due to factors such as over-harvesting, predation, disease, development, and climate change. While shifts in stocks and spawning areas have been reasonably well documented since 1980, no synthesis of the deeper archaeological, historical, and ethno-ecological records on herring spawning areas and their relation to local ecosystems has been carried out.
Our goal is to synthesize this information for the region encompassing Southeast Alaska from Dixon Entrance to Yakutat Bay, where herring and herring roe traditionally have been harvested in quantity. Using existing published and unpublished archaeological, ethnological, historical and biological records as well as community focus groups in each historical herring stock region, we propose to compile a historical and spatial database using geographic information systems (GIS) to:
1) identify the extent of historic and prehistoric herring spawning and massing areas;
2) link changes in herring spawn extent and intensity to environmental and human factors in the socio-ecological system; and
3) identify sensitive areas for protection and potential restoration of herring spawning.

We welcome your comments!