Herring Roe Recovery in Norton Sounds Sets Another Record

The community development quota corporation for Alaska’s Norton Sound region is celebrating another successful herring harvest with record roe recovery. While small by comparison to herring roe harvests elsewhere in Alaska, the Norton Sound Economic Development Corp. said their fishermen topped their own high mark set a year ago by harvesting herring with an all-time record recovery of roe.

The 744 tons of herring harvested this year in Norton Sound were comprised of 14.8 percent roe on average. The previous record, set in 2010 by Norton Sound harvesters, was 13.5 percent roe recovery.

In total, the Norton Sound herring fleet, using gillnets, harvested 810 tons of herring, of which 66 tons were directed to a bait fishery. The CDQ group paid out more than $274,000 for the entire fishery, an average of $339 per ton. Through an agreement with the CDQ group, Icicle Seafoods brought in a processing vessel and tenders to Norton Sound both last year and this year.

The roe harvested is sold as a luxury food in Japan, often given out as holiday gifts.
In addition to negotiating the processing agreement with Icicle Seafoods, NSEDC provides aerial survey support to its fishermen. This year alone, biologists from NSEDC’s Norton Sound fisheries research and development division flew 29 hours in 15 flights to support their harvesters.