Herring update: ‘We’re going after these fish’

Herring spawn, on the west side of Middle Island Tuesday morning (3-25-14). (Photo courtesy ADF&G/Dave Gordon)

Herring spawn, on the west side of Middle Island Tuesday morning (3-25-14). (Photo courtesy ADF&G/Dave Gordon)

With the herring spawn starting in Sitka Sound, the Alaska Department of Fish & Game is quickly developing plans for a third commercial seine opening — possibly on Wednesday.

ADF&G biologist Dave Gordon reported seeing one area of intense spawn on the west side of Middle Island, during his aerial survey yesterday morning. Large concentrations of herring were visible along the Sitka road system, as well as between Whale and Galankin islands.

In his 11 a.m. radio update, Gordon said he had spoken with processors, who are going full bore on the 10,300 tons landed in the previous two openers on Sunday and last Thursday. In addition, longliners took advantage of some nice spring weather and brought in several hundred thousand pounds of black cod and halibut to the already-stressed plants.

Nevertheless, Gordon said, “Given the developments of spawn, I think it’s in our interest to go after these fish.” He said the opener — when it occurs — will likely target the entire 6,000 tons left on this year’s harvest limit.

In the sac roe fishery, the eggs are taken intact from the females. It’s critical to the success of the commercial harvest to land the fish prior to spawning.