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Herring biomass increase forecast in Togiak

Alaskan purse seiner lifting a catch of herring. (Photo Credit: NOAA)

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Friday, March 06, 2015, 03:00 (GMT + 9)
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game Division of Commercial Fisheries (ADF&G) has forecast a larger than the 10-year average herring biomass in the Togiak District this year despite the likelihood of a lower price and participation in the fishery.
Based on an age-structured analysis model, herring biomass is predicted to be 163,480 tonnes, approximately 110 per cent of the recent 10 year average. It is expected that up to 32,696 tonnes of herring will be available for harvest in 2015.
Besides, in accordance with the management plan harvest allocation will be as follows:
  • Spawn-on-kelp: 1,500 tonnes;
  • Dutch Harbour food and bait: 2,184 tonnes;
  • Togiak sac roe: 29,012 tonnes;
  • Purse Seine: 20,309 tonnes;
  • Gillnet: 8,704 tonnes.
The variables taken into account to perform these predictions were the average sea surface temperature and Bering Sea ice coverage in February and March, which are considered to be a useful index of timing for maturing herring ultimately bound for spawning grounds in and around the Togiak District.
“Currently sea surface temperatures are much higher than we would expect at this time of year and the Bering Sea is almost totally ice free. Given that these conditions are so far from normal, we have little confidence in our ability to accurately forecast timing this year,” ADF&G reported.
Furthermore, it was predicted that this year sac roe fisheries will again be managed to maximize product quality through long openings which allow permit holders to make smaller sets and harvest the highest quality fish.
Based on a pre-season poll, ADF&G announced that processing capacity is expected to be approximately 2,200 tonnes per day based, representing a 15 per cent decrease compared to 2014 (2,600 tonnes per day).
The survey also indicates that five processors will participate in the herring roe fishery in Togiak, with a fleet of 10 gillnet vessels and 16 seiners.
Alaskan authorities expect that while purse seine vessels will be able to locate high quality herring and fill their company’s daily needs, gillnet fishery management will be similar to past years. 

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