Pacific herring Credit: carnivoraforum.com

Pacific herring
Credit: carnivoraforum.com

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced today the final guideline harvest level (GHL) for the 2016 Sitka Sound herring fishery will be 14,941 tons.

This is based on a 20% harvest rate of a forecast mature biomass of 74,707 tons. It is expected that 200 tons will be harvested in the winter bait test fishery which will be subtracted from the GHL resulting in a target harvest of 14,741 tons for the Sitka herring sac roe fishery.  (Preliminary GHL was 15,674 tons)

Test fishery samples taken in early February showed average weight at age for all age classes were less than the average weight at age from 2015 winter samples. This has resulted in a 5% decrease from the preliminary forecast mature biomass of 78,372 tons announced November 25, 2015.

The department plans to conduct the first aerial survey of Sitka Sound around March 11 and will post the season’s first fishery update after the flight. The department will be seeking to have the first roe sample taken on March 15. The R/V Kestrel will be deployed from its home port in Petersburg when roe samples indicate the need to put the fishery on two-hour notice. There will be a pre-fishery organizational meeting just prior to the fishery being placed on two-hour notice with meeting time and location announced in a later news release.