Herring return in significant numbers to Auke Bay

Boats fill the Lynn Canal as seen from out the road last week. (Photo by Greg Culley)

Boats fill the Lynn Canal as seen from out the road last week. (Photo by Greg Culley)

Pacific herring are returning to Auke Bay to spawn in the most significant numbers seen in decades.

Whether the fishery is becoming healthier won’t be seen until scientists see if the eggs are fertilized and if they survive.

The Juneau Empire reports Lynn Canal herring stocks have been depressed for decades. For the past seven years until recently, first Lynn Canal and then Southeast herring stocks were under consideration for listing as an endangered species, but neither population was deemed distinct enough for the listing.

The herring fishery closed in Lynn Canal and around Juneau in 1982.

Marine ecologist Michelle Ridgway says she has seen more female herring this summer, but is still looking for males. Other challenges for the fishery include water quality and temperature.