ADF&G predicts largest ever GHL for Sitka Sound herring fishery

Early herring spawn event at Knowles Bay. (March 31, 2019) Photo courtesy of Vanessa Lane-Miller/Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Early herring spawn event at Knowles Bay. (March 31, 2019) Photo courtesy of Vanessa Lane-Miller/Alaska Department of Fish and Game

State fisheries biologists have set a guideline harvest level for the 2022 Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery at 45,164 tons of mature herring, based on a forecast of the largest GHL ever set for that area.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced Jan. 14 that no reductions have been made to the GHL, as was done in the previous two years to buffer against uncertainty surrounding the extremely large and partially mature 2016-year class.

The consistent estimates of this large year class produced by observation and modeling for the past three years has reduced the department’s concerns about uncertainty of the size of the cohort and thus a reduction to the 2022 GHL is not warranted, according to ADF&G.

Even while this is the largest forecast ever completed for Sitka Sound herring it is 8% smaller than the model-estimated 2021 mature herring biomass, of 245,302 tons. Model estimates with data collected in 2020 and 2021 indicate that both the 2020 and 2021 Sitka Sound herring forecasts underestimated the biomass returns for those years, they said.