The guideline harvest level (GHL) for the 2019 Sitka Sound sac roe herring harvest has been set at 12,869 tons. Alaska Department of Fish and Game officials said the forecast is based on a 20 percent harvest rate of the forecasted mature biomass of 62,343 tons. The 2019 forecast is a boost from the 55,637 tons seen in 2018, but less than the 2016 and 2017 forecasts of 74,707 and 73,245 tons respectively. The figure represents a nine percent increase from the model estimate of 2018 mature pre-fishery biomass of 59,257 tons.
This past year the Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery, which shut down early, fell 8,330 tons short of the GHL. It was the fourth time in six years that the fishery closed before meeting the quota because aerial surveys did not spot herring schools of marketable size.
State biologists said results of the spawn deposition survey showed that while spawn mileage was about half that of 2017, the spawn extended nearly twice as far offshore, and that egg density was higher. In both 2005 and 2008, a similar situation occurred where the spawn extended far offshore on Kruzof Island due to the very wide shelf of herring spawning habitat. Biologist pointed out that due to exceptional spawn along the Kruzof Island shoreline, the 2018 herring spawning biomass was much higher than was apparent from the spawn mileage alone, highlighting the need to conduct annual spawn deposition surveys.