AK herring season leaves 90% of available fish in the water

Sitka's roe herring harvest came up way short; no fisheries at Kodiak or Togiak due to no buyers.

by | April 10, 2024

Sitka seiners shared just 13,300 tons, or 16% of a record 81,246 ton quota

A small fleet of seiners at Sitka Sound ended the roe herring fishery on April 5 after several openers that kicked off on March 22. The region had a 2024 record available harvest of 81,246 tons, or 163 million pounds. But as has been the case for several decades, no buying interest translated into few fishermen wetting their nets for a total catch of 13,300 tons (26.6 million pounds).

Kodiak’s roe herring fishery opened on April 1 but attracted zero interest by buyers or fishermen for a 8,200 ton harvest, or 16.4 million pounds.

Likewise, the roe herring fishery at Togiak, previously Alaska’s largest, has been called off due to no buying interest. The Togiak fishery this year had a guideline harvest of 38,787 tons, or 78 million pounds.

All told, Alaska’s roe herring harvest for 2024 could have produced a combined total of 128,233 tons of fish (nearly 257 million pounds.

Alaska has not expanded its roe herring customer base beyond Japan for over 50 years. Meanwhile, changing tastes in that country have reduced Japan’s buying interest in Alaska roe herring to almost nothing. What used to be one of the State’s most lucrative fisheries paying out at $2,000 a ton has dwindled to $100 per ton, if there is even a fishery.

On Friday, Alaska fishery officials are holding a special public meeting in Kodiak to discuss ways to revitalize the State’s herring fishery. Tune in to the meeting HERE  (https://us06web.zoom.us/j/88560329136)

Nearly all of AK’s roe herring is ground up as fish meal or dumped

Herring ground up for fish meal

Read more about the dire condition of Alaska’s roe herring fishery below — All males are considered as bycatch and the female carcasses are not utilized after the eggs are removed. That means that over 85% of the Alaska roe herring is ground up for Asian fish meal or simply dumped.

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About Laine

Laine Welch has covered the Alaska fish beat for print and radio since 1988. She also has worked “behind the counter” at retail and wholesale seafood companies in Kodiak and on Cape Cod.

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