Nov. 24, 2014

Note:   The 2014 guideline harvest was 17, 592 tons

Herring haul at Sitka

Herring haul at Sitka

Sitka. . . The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced today the preliminary guideline harvest
level (GHL) for the 2015 Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery is 8,712 tons based on a 19.7% harvest rate
of a forecast mature biomass of 44,237 tons.
The department uses an age structured analysis (ASA) model which uses a long time series of abundance
and age composition data from department surveys conducted during and following the spring fishery.
Herring abundance is estimated using aerial surveys designed to map the length of shoreline receiving
spawn, and dive surveys which estimate the density of eggs and the average width of the spawn.

The department mapped 50 nautical miles of herring spawn in the Sitka Sound area during the spring of 2014,
compared to the recent 10-year average of 60 nautical miles. The estimated post-fishery spawning
biomass in 2014 was 51,321 tons and the total sac roe harvest was 16,957 tons. An additional 121 tons
were harvested in personal use and test fisheries for a total mature population biomass of 68,399 tons,
which was below the forecast of 81,663 tons. Samples of the spawning herring in 2014 resulted in an age
composition of 1% age-3, 39% age-4, 10% age-5, 8% age-6, 15% age-7, and 27% age-8+.

Contributing to the forecasted decline of the Sitka Sound mature herring biomass was very low numbers
of age-3 recruit herring in 2014. Poor recruitment of age-3 herring was also observed for most other
herring stocks in Southeast Alaska. The forecast indicates that the Sitka mature biomass in 2015 will
consist of 17% age-3, 5% age-4, 33% age-5, 5% age-6, 6% age-7, and 34% age-8 and older herring.
The forecast and GHL for the 2015 fishery will be finalized using average weight-at-age from samples
obtained in the winter test fishery, to be conducted in late-January or early-February, 2015. The final
forecast will be announced in late-February or early-March.