Alaska state fisheries officials have set a final guideline harvest level of 11,549 tons for the 2013 Sitka Sound herring sac roe fishery. That’s some 500 tons more than the preliminary GHL announced back in December.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game officials at Sitka said the adjustment is based on the winter test fishery sample results showing generally larger average weights-at-age this winter compared to 2012.
The second aerial survey of the 2013 season was conducted on March 18 and covered areas of Sitka Sound north of Cape Burunof and Salisbury Sound. Visibility was generally good throughout the survey, and 19 whales were observed, but no herring were visible from the air. State biologists said that similar to the previous survey, whales continued to be concentrated in waters offshore between Kruzof Island and Crow Island. The largest sea lion concentration was off Kresta Point, where there were approximately 200 sea lions.
A seine vessel attempted on March 18 to get a test sample, but no sample was taken. The herring were concentrated in deeper waters and not available to the gear. The vessel captain reported seeing a large biomass of herring in the deeper waters west of Gagarin and Crow Islands and near Guide Island. Herring also were seen in the deeper waters near Old Sitka Rocks.
The next aerial survey was scheduled for today, March 20.
Updates will be posted at http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=cfnews.main.