Herring fleet catches 1/4 of quota in Sunday opener

The Sitka Sound Sac Roe herring fishery opened Sunday (March 19) for just over three hours. In that window, the fleet caught nearly a quarter of this year’s quota.

The Alaska Department of Fish & Game opened the fishery in the waters of Hayward Strait at 2:30 in the afternoon, and closed it down at 5:50 in the evening. Preliminary estimates from processors indicate that 3,500 tons of herring were hauled in, leaving 11,000 tons of the quota on the table.

Eric Coonradt, Fisheries Biologist with ADF&G, said the fish was of good quality.

“Sounds like the average roe content is somewhere between 11 and 12%, so very marketable fish for these guys. That means a decent price,” Coonradt said.

Herring are harvested for their roe, which is sold to markets in Asia.

The multi-million dollar fishery occurs in the few critical days between the maturation of the eggs in the female herring, and the beginning of the spawn. In an aerial survey conducted yesterday, ADF&G observed no spawning activity but plenty of herring near Middle Island. Few herring were observed south of Sitka.

The fleet – which has 48 boats – stood down Monday (March 20) and processed Sunday’s catch. Coonradt said another fishery is likely on Tuesday.