Alaska Herring Week Comes to Seattle June 19-25

Several dozen Seattle area restaurants and grocers have teamed up with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute to celebrate Alaska Herring Week June 19-25. For the occasion, the restaurant Luc has created a cold poached herring appetizer with pickled vegetable, potato salad, olive and petit pepper tapenade, while the Purple Café and Wine Bar in Woodinville planned to serve grilled herring with smoked shiitake, asparagus, lobster consommé and scallions.

“It is very exciting,” said Bruce Schactler, food aid and development director for ASMI. “We have eight different James Beard award winners taking part this year.”

North Pacific Seafoods, which has five shore-based production facilities in Alaska, including Togiak and Sitka, is for the second year running donating 5,000 pounds of herring fillets for the event.
ASMI’s hope is that stepped up promotion of herring will boost demand and prices for the small, easy to prepare fish, which is rich in Omega 3 oils, and hails from a sustainable fishery in Alaska.

“This is still at the promotional level,” Schactler said of the herring development project. “To put a product up in volume, you have to be sure you are going to be selling it.” Once the demand reaches that critical mass, processors will start producing herring fillets as the fish is harvested to meet that demand, he explained.

With three million tons of herring eaten around the world, the herring fishery in the North Atlantic is bigger than the Bering Sea Pollock fishery, he said.

The Togiak herring fishery is managed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, with the harvest based on a maximum of 15 percent of the spawning biomass. When the biomass is at the lower end of the historical scale, the harvest level will usually be closer to a very conservative 10 percent.