Togiak Herring Fishery Winds Down

The Togiak herring fishery, which opened on April 28, closed to purse seiners on May 7, while the gillnet fishery area increased westward to the longitude of Anchor Point, according to area biologist Tim Sands with Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G).

Through May 6, the purse seine harvest showed 1,830 tons after subtracting documented dead loss, but ADF&G determined there is not enough quota remaining to justify additional fishing.

The gillnet fleet’s harvest has so far remained confidential.

ADF&G thanked processors for assistance collecting herring samples used to generate age composition estimates of the harvest and future biomass estimates.

“We would also like to thank the spotter pilots for all the updates they provided,” Sands said.
The purse seine harvest for May 4 was 2,805 tons and 445 tons for May 5 , bringing the cumulative purse seine harvest to 14,145 tons with a reported roe percentage of 11.3 percent and an average size of 413 grams through May 6, according to ADF&G.

The season opened on April 28, with an allocation of 16,060 tons for seiners and 6,883 tons for gillnetters, but the fish were not yet mature enough to harvest.

As the fishery got underway, there were eight gillnetters and 19 seiners fishing, but Sands said he expects that by season’s end there will be 19 gillnetters out there too.

Last year just three gillnetters participated in the Togiak herring district.

The reason for the potential increase in participating gillnetters is optimism about the price. “They are hoping for a better price than last year,” Sands said.

The estimated value of the 2016 fishery was $1.52 million, based on $100 per ton, not counting post-season adjustments.

ADF&G officials said department staff flew a survey of the Togiak herring district on April 28 under poor conditions and saw herring along Cape Constantine, outside of Kulukak Bay, in the northeast corner of Togiak Bay and along the east face of Hagemeiter Island. The biologists were able to document a threshold biomass of 35,000 tons of herring on that survey.