Management biologists for the Bristol Bay Herring Management Plan said March 4 that based on a forecasted run of 157,448 tons, up to 31,490 tons of herring would be available for harvest in 2014.
Sea ice extent in the Bering Sea is currently 5 percent below recent years, suggesting a slightly earlier harvest than that seen in recent years, said biologists managing herring in the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Dillingham office.
The harvest allocation, according to the management plan, includes 27,890 tons for the Togiak sac roe fishery, with 19,523 tons (70 percent) for the purse seine fleet, and 8,367 tons (30 percent) for the gillnetters. The allocation for Dutch Harbor food and bait is 2,099 tons, and another 1,500 tons is allocated for spawn-on-kelp.
Biologists said the 157,448-ton forecast was a 7 percent decrease from 2013, but 20 percent above the recent 10-year average. Age 6 herring are expected to comprise 11 percent of the projected biomass, with ages 7 and 8 comprising 35 percent, ages 9-11 making up 48 percent, and the remaining 6 percent age 12 and older.
The management strategy for the Togiak herring fishery is designed to provide for maximum sustained yield while affording the greatest economic benefit to fishermen and processors, biologists said.
The sac roe fisheries will again be managed to maximize product quality through long openings, allowing permit holders to make smaller sets and harvest the best fish available, they said. Processors will also have more flexibility to control harvest volume so that holding time between harvest and processing is optimal.
Available processing capacity is expected to be approximately 3,365 tons a day based on a preseason poll. This represents a significant increase from the 2013 daily capacity of 2,500 tons a day.
The preseason poll also indicates there will be seven processing companies participating in the Togiak sac roe herring fishery and fleet size is expected to be 38 gillnet and 29 purse seine vessels.