Alaska tribe: Shut down herring fishery

Sitka Tribe of Alaska is asking state fishing regulators to end the current commercial harvest of herring near the Southeast community, saying too many of the tiny fish are being caught and it’s hurting the tribe’s traditional reliance on herring eggs.

Tribal chairman Mike Baines wrote a letter to Fish and Game Commissioner Sam Cotton today asking that he “cease any additional attempt” by the commercial fishing division to allow more herring to be caught in the Sitka sac roe herring fishery.

A Fish and Game update on the Sitka Sound herring fishery on Saturday said approximately 10,050 tons had been harvested since this season started on March 17. That leaves about 4,690 tons left to be harvested. The commercial fishery is opened for relatively short periods at a time to allow for processing of the harvest and the rotation of tender vessels.

Subsistence herring fishermen don’t harvest the fish. They target the eggs and allow them to collect on hemlock branches left to sit in quiet coves and bays. Subsistence fishermen have been pulling branches out of the water with few or no eggs on them, Baines said.

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About the author

Jessica Hathaway

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman. She has been covering the fishing industry for 13 years, serves on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s Communications Committee and is a National Fisheries Conservation Center board member.

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