A herring return forecast lower than the 1,000-ton threshold necessary to conduct a commercial fishery has caused the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to disallow commercial spawn-on-kelp pound fishery in Sitka’s Hoonah Sound for the 2014 season. The method of herring egg collection entails catching fish with seine gear, placing them in enclosures and harvesting their eggs from kelp fronds to be sold.
For the past few years, herring populations in Sitka’s Hoonah Sound have been dropping, said Eric Coonradt, Sitka assistant area management biologist for the department. However, the department can’t determine exactly what is causing dwindling schools.
“There’s a natural event happening out there that we can’t explain at this time,” Coonradt said.