The Alaska Department of Fish and Game completed aerial surveys of the Ketchikan and Sitka herring fisheries on March 29th.

For Ketchikan’s fishery, the aerial survey covered Mary Island, Cat and Dog Islands, as well as the northern shoreline of Duke Island from Form Point to Grave Point.

According to the Department’s latest report, surveyors observed increased predator activity near Craig and Klawock, spotting about 90 sea lions and two humpback whales in the vicinity of Double Island. They recorded about 2.6 nautical miles of active spawn on Double Island and the northern portion of Dog Island, wrapping into Dog Bay. 

Yesterday’s aerial survey of the Sitka fishery covered Sitka Sound from as far south as Windy Passage, Shelikof Bay to the west, and as far north as Salisbury Sound. Surveyors observed herring schools in Leesoffskaia Bay, Aleutkina Bay, St. John Baptist Bay, and Sukoi Inlet. 

They recorded about 8.3 nautical miles of active herring spawn at St. Lazaria Island, as well as on the southern and southeastern Kruzof Island shoreline.

Herring predators were concentrated around Shoals Point and Low Island, near the Causeway, and south of Peisar [pay-sar] Island. Department and industry vessels surveyed Sitka Sound from Harbor Point to Fred’s Creek, in Hayward Strait, and from Indian River to Peisar Island. 

They located very large schools of herring with sonar near Inner Point and near Peisar Island. Numerous other schools of herring were observed from Harbor Point to Middle Island. 

Herring began spawning in Sitka Sound on March 26. Since that date, the department estimates that the cumulative spawn is 11.1 nautical miles. 

The Sitka Sound herring sac roe fishery opened briefly yesterday from 11:45 a.m. until 12:45 p.m. The harvest estimate from Monday’s fishery was approximately 650 tons of herring.

Harvest estimates from these surveys will be included in the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s next fishery update.