Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sitka fishermen strike herring mother lode

Anchorage Daily News
In two hauls, boats catch more than 10,000 tons
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."

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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!