This year, the Sitka Sac Roe herring quota shrinks to 11,055 tons, which is a huge decline from last season’s forecast of nearly 30,000 tons. The early closure of the 2012 fishery shows the lack of accuracy in the predictive models used to forecast this delicate species. Alaska‘s history with the health of herring stocks is a tough story. Check here, Fishtory | Southeast Alaska And Herring, for more details. The best hope is that this smaller quota allows the stocks to replenish, while market prices soar from higher demands. The fishing fleet will likely be downsized this year with such a small quota. All permit holders will remain constant, but the number of tender vessels might be curtailed to deal with the smaller quota.
Pacific salmon play a vital part of our worlds ecology. Over 22 different species feed off the bounty of the salmon‘s epic yearly migration. For millions of years, the salmon ruled the pacific ocean and populations flourished thought out the Pacific Rim. Native cultures revered these massive returns as gifts and celebrated each season’s salmon return with art and ceremony. In 1779, Captain James Cook discovered the Columbia River and its salmon bounty while searching for the inside passage. Once the Europeans hit the west coast, large-scale salmon exporting by the Hudson Bay Fishery ramped up. In 1876, the first salmon cannery opened in Astoria and there were 70 more along the coast by the turn of the century.
Salmon production vigorously continued along the coast well in the next century. By the mid 1900’s, it was obvious that the salmon stocks were in serious decline. Mismanagement by the federal government was blamed for most of the problems, then in 1959 Alaska became a state and took control of the fisheries. New management techniques included escapement, which ensured that sufficient numbers of salmon escape capture to ensure the health of future spawning generations. Even with new measures in effect, salmon stocks declined to record lows in 1972. The Limited Entry Act passed in 1973 to regulate the overall number of permits. This system has proved successful in rebuilding the salmon runs to today’s epic standards.
The history of salmon is full of flaws and mistakes, yet the saga of salmon defines the west coast. This majestic fish still dominates Pacific waters and provides the world with one of nature’s greatest proteins. Salmon have survived through all the hardships man has delivered over the years and remains one of natures greatest events. Next time salmon is on your dinner plate, think of the history of a truly amazing fish.
Jason Crosby, a multi-generational fisherman and a mini media mogul has just released the newest video in his Youtube quiver. He recently broke 1,000,000 hits on his youtube channel for the series, American Fishermen. Here’s a link to his popular youtube page. Make sure to check out his various videos from multiple fisheries. Red War (jump) is a must see about Halibut fishing. Bloody Hell, describes it best. If that’s not enough, be sure to check out Jason and his family as they restore a classic fishing vessel,the F/VGenius in Gig Harbor. Old boats can be a real headache and a huge expense. Check in with Jason and crew at his GoFundMe page. So, set back and enjoy the video.
Sitka Herring is in full swing. After somewhat of a confusing start, fishermen has harvested just under half the quote. On this pace, it should only take another three openers to fill the quota. The price is still a mystery and the early spawn was just an anomaly. The weather couldn’t be better and fishing will resume tomorrow. Stay tuned @JuneauTek on Twitter for all the latest updates.
That puts the fleet at 14,000 tons so far, well below its goal of a record 29,000 tons.
Fishermen were growing increasingly anxious over the five day interval between Saturday’s fishing and the previous opener on Monday. In the interim, ADF&G mapped nearly 37-miles of active spawn.
The Sac Roe fishery depends on landing the herring just BEFORE they spawn. The egg sacs are sold to gourmet markets primarily in Japan.
ADF&G opened fishing on Saturday in a large area to the north of Sitka, including Krestof and Salisbury sounds. Finding marketable volumes of unspawned fish has been challenging. ADF&G biologist Dave Gordon sounded almost like he was organizing an easter-egg hunt.
“So, a very large area. The situation through last night appears to be that fish moved out of Salisbury, down into Krestof Sound, but there still remains a decent volume of fish in the Salisbury sound area.”
Fishing took place between 2:15 and 5:30 in the afternoon.
via Herring hunt nets 3,700 tons on Saturday | KCAW.
The battle to harvest the massive quota before everything spawns out continues in Sitka. So far, about 11,000 tons have been harvest in just two openers. Processors are super plugged today, but chances of a fishery today are possible, because of the rate of spawn around the islands. There will be announcement today at 11:00 AM. I’ve been recording these and posting them on soundcloud, if you are interested in hearing them. You can find the link in the sidebar. As always follow me on twitter for micro updates and make sure to like the facebook page. All of this info is in the sidebar.
The history of herring in the southeast reaches back nearly 4000 years to the subsistence uses of the of the local Tinglit and Haida who harvested the herring roe on the branches of Hemlock trees. This tradition still exists as a huge part of the spring ritual in Sitka each year. The commercial fishing history and uses of herring date back to the late 1800s, when herring was typically reduced into oils to be used in soaps and fish meal for agricultural needs. Herring was also salt cured for the various food demands. By 1905, almost 50 different canneries were operating in Southeast Alaska and the advent of halibut fishing put even heavier demands on herring stocks for use as bait. With all of the numerous uses for herring, production peaked around the late 1930s. However, the intensive harvesting devastated the herring stocks and by 1942 all herring fishing had stopped in southeast to hope for rebuilding stocks. In 1966, the last oil reduction plant closed down in southeast alaska. Many of the largest herring biomasses have been devastated by poor practices in the past. However, the Sitka biomass is at its largest ever. The only way to ensure a better future is to understand the past. It’s no doubt that our fishery practices were flawed in the past. The only real question is. Will we repeat these mistakes in the future?
Herring have supported some of Alaska’s oldest commercial fisheries, and subsistence fisheries for herring in Alaska predate recorded history. The spring harvest of herring eggs on kelp or hemlock boughs has always been an important subsistence resource in coastal communities throughout Alaska. Traditional dried herring remains a major staple of the diet in Bering Sea villages near Nelson Island (Pete 1990) where salmon are not readily available.
Alaska’s commercial herring industry began in 1878 when 30,000 pounds were caught and prepared for human consumption. The early European settlers in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska caught herring and preserved them with salt in wooden barrels, as they had done with herring from the North Sea. Salted and pickled herring production for food peaked after World War I, when about 28 million lb (12,700 mt) were harvested annually (figure of historical herring sac roe harvests).
Reduction fisheries which “reduce” herring to meal and oil began initially in Southeast Alaska, where a plant at Killisnoo in Chatham Strait was producing 30,000 gallons of herring oil annually by 1882. During the 1920s herring became increasingly valued for oil and meal. Herring reduction plants sprang up along the Gulf of Alaska from Craig to Kodiak near locations where concentrations of herring could be found. Harvests during the 1920s and 1930s, as high as 250 million lb (113,400 mt) per year, were probably too high and may have caused the stocks and fisheries to decline. During the 1950s, lower-cost Peruvian anchoveta reduction fisheries severely impacted the oil and meal markets. Alaskan herring reduction fisheries quickly declined, and the last Alaska herring reduction plant closed in 1966.
via Commercial Herring Fisheries, Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
In the land of the midnight sun, one place stands out among the various visual treasures that make up southeast Alaska. “Sitka by the Sea” is truly one of the most scenic places in Alaska. Nestled into a precarious rock pile on the west side of Baranof island, Sitka is framed by majestic mountains and an awe inspiring volcano known as Mt Edgecumbe. With over 1100 slips, Sitka is home to nearly every kind of fishing boat. Every year in the spring, herring return to Sitka Sound to create one of nature’s greatest events. The spawn is so huge that its milky tint can even be seen from space. Weither your into fishing or not, Sitka offers many great outdoor adventures. The numerous islands make for great exploring and if your lucky you might even find Pirate Cove. Hiking is a must for every visitor and Totem Park is a amazing place to start. The entire park is a historic site and it offers a unique perspective on the vast history of Sitka, which was once know as the “Paris Of The West”
The “Superbowl Of Seining” is here again. This year the quota is biggest it ever been at almost 30,000 tons. Sadly, the price may the biggest mystery of this fishery. Last year, prices plummeted after the japanese tsunami. Most canneries ended up paying between $100 and $150 a ton. This year the price is expected to be a bit better and the word on the docks sounds like its going to be about $250 a ton. However, no real numbers have been solidly confirmed by the processors. The weather has been miraculous the past fews with plenty of blue skies and greatly welcomed sunshine. The herring seem to respond to the nice sunny water by coming up from the depths and preparing to spawn. So the conditions are perfect, but the herring still haven’t started coming up to the surface. Most estimates are that the fishery is still 5 days away. However, predicting the herring has proved to be complicated in the past. Basically, the fleet is on stand down until test fishing produces herring with mature roe. Hurry up and wait! Just part of being a fishermen, I guess… Stay tuned for the latest updates of the fishery. It is going to be a crazy year!