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The 2014 Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery is over.

The 48 permit holders caught the last remaining fish in this year’s harvest limit — and then some — in a wild 45-minute opener Saturday afternoon right in front of downtown Sitka.

The preliminary estimate from the Alaska Department of Fish & Game for Saturday’s harvest is just shy of 4,000 tons, bringing this year’s total catch to 17,200 tons — about 900 tons more than the guideline harvest level.

After a productive second opening on Sunday afternoon (3-23-14), the Sitka sac roe herring fleet is well over halfway toward its harvest goal.

Fishermen landed an estimate 5,000 tons in Sunday’s opening, which began at 1:30 p.m. and lasted an hour and forty minutes, closing at 3:10 p.m. Sunday’s catch was just 300 tons less than the harvest in last Thursday’s season opener — and a little more than the Department of Fish & Game was aiming for.

Sitka’s remunerative herring fishery goes on two-hour notice as of 8 a.m. Thursday (3-20-14). That means fishing could start as shortly as Thursday morning, depending on either exam samples taken by a Alaska Department of Fish Game find a high adequate commission of mature roe, or eggs, in a fish.

But some fishermen are apprehensive.

Seiners contend this year’s quota, during over 16,000 tons, is high. The peculiarity of a fish, in exam samples, is good. What worries them is a market.

Alaska longliners are ready to steam out of town for the Saturday start of the Pacific halibut fishery. Alaska’s catch of roughly 19 million pounds is down about 11 percent. The sablefish, or black cod, fishery also opens on March 8. That quota was reduced by 10 percent this year to just under 34 million pounds.

Alaska longliners are ready to steam out of town for the Saturday start of the Pacific halibut fishery. Alaska’s catch of roughly 19 million pounds is down about 11 percent. The sablefish, or black cod, fishery also opens on March 8. That quota was reduced by 10 percent this year to just under 34 million pounds.

A herring biomass that is close to the average over the past 13 years is forecast for the 2014 Sitka Sound sac roe fishery, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said today. The preliminary guideline harvest has been set at 17,592 tons, based on an estimated returning biomass of 87,958 tons.

A herring return forecast lower than the 1,000-ton threshold necessary to conduct a commercial fishery has caused the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to disallow commercial spawn-on-kelp pound fishery in Sitka’s Hoonah Sound for the 2014 season. The method of herring egg collection entails catching fish with seine gear, placing them in enclosures and harvesting their eggs from kelp fronds to be sold.

Catches for next year’s roe herring fisheries are starting to trickle in – at Alaska’s biggest herring fishery at Togiak, the harvest will be almost 28,000 tons, slightly less than last year. In Alaska, the female herring are valued for their eggs; the male fish are worth next to nothing and mostly ground into fish meal. Togiak fishermen averaged $100 a ton for herring last year – their counterparts in Norway got 47-cents a pound. Why? Because the fish is sold smoked, canned, pickled and more.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has released the Togiak herring forecast for next year and its down slightly compared to this year’s forecast. KDLG’s Mike Mason has the details.

The one-boat-at-a-time bait herring fishery around Kodiak Island opened today (Friday) at 10 a.m. The guideline harvest level in the two open districts is 99 tons for the South Afognak District and 180 tons in the Uganik District. The districts will remain open until further notice and be closed by emergency order by Fish and Game or when they reach their respective GHL. In an announcement today, Fish and Game says the Eastside District could open if there is interest in harvesting its 175 ton GHL.