Herring Fishery in Prince William Sound Stays Closed

Alaska fisheries management biologists at Cordova say all
commercial Pacific herring fisheries in Prince William Sound will remain closed
this season, due to the estimated spawning biomass being projected below 22,000
The announcement issued includes fall food and bait, purse
seine and gillnet sac roe, spawn-on-kelp in pounds, and wild spawn-on-kelp
While age structured assessment modeling results were not
yet available, observed mile-days of spawn in 2013 indicated that the
pre-fishery run biomass for 2014 would likely be below the regulatory threshold
in the Prince William Sound herring management plan, biologists said.
“The population right now is stable, but too low for a
fishery,” said Jeremy Botz, a state management biologist at Cordova. The area’s
last herring fishery was in 1999.
Hydro-acoustic surveys, net sampling, and aerial surveys
were conducted in 2013 to assess herring biomass, disease prevalence, age
composition and growth.
Age composition samples taken during the spring of 2013
varied by location and sample gear. Spawning fish samples from southeast Prince
William Sound were predominantly made up of five age classes: age 4 (19
percent), 6 (19 percent), 7 (15 percent, 8 (20 percent), and 9 (13 percent). No
collections were made from smaller spawning events in the Port Fidalgo and
Montague Island areas.
Herring disease assessment was included as part of the
annual age, sex and size assessment completed each spring since 1993. Disease
sampling in April 2013 found no fish positive for viral hemorrhagic septicemia
virus in 119 fish examined, biologists said.

Additional updates on the status of Prince William Sound
herring populations is to be announced as new information becomes available,
they said.