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Herring Fishery in West Behm Canal
by Shelley Stallings


March 05, 2004

To: Governor of Alaska, and to the Alaska Board of Fisheries

Subject: Herring Fishery in West Behm Canal

Please forward a copy of this letter to the Governor as I could not find a link to email him at his website. Thank you for providing a link at your website to contact you.

Also make sure each board member gets a copy of this email.

I am a 27 year resident of Southeast Alaska. When I moved to Ketchikan 23 years ago it was common to go down to the boat harbors and see wonderful balls of herring right inside the harbor. People could dip net all the herring they needed for bait in 10 minutes. This was dependable for many years, then each year there would be fewer and fewer herring in the harbors, now I haven't seen a ball of herring in Bar Harbor for 10 years or more.

When we built our house on the shores of Tongass Narrows just 8 miles west of Ketchikan, near the beginning of West Behm Canal, we would often have herring spawn right on the rocks in front of our house. It was a beautiful wildlife sight with all the sea lions, seals, whales, and sea birds in a frenzy to take advantage of the wealth of feed. I haven't seen a herring spawn in front of my house in at least 12 years, each year there has been less and less herring.

For years many of us have asked that there be an end to the herring roe fishery. What a terrible waste of one of the very key species in the food chain in our oceans. Just for MONEY! People should go to jail for allowing this to continue.

When the fisheries board met in Ketchikan last year, scores of local people took time to go to the board and plead for them to not allow a herring fishery in our area. Like most hearings by government officials it was all a hoax, they did not want our input into their decision making. Why waste the board's time and our time with this false sense of democracy in action.

I ask you, Governor Murkowski, use your executive power to protect our salmon, sea lions and whales, all the critters in the food chain which will suffer harm from taking herring out of the sea when it is so obvious to those of us who live here herring numbers are not what they were just one generation ago. Like many of our natural resources, this generation seems to think all of this was put here just for their use, not for future generations or other animals which depend on these resources.

Thank you for listening to those of us who live here and I await your response.

To Sitnews readers: While it really isn't an issue for the Fisheries Board, we locals must also realize and take responsibility to the other probable cause of the demise of herring in our area. Loss of critical habitat. Our development of our shoreline with allowing fill of herring habitat to build more industry and homes, eel grass destruction and what ever else herring need to live also has to play a part in this problem. It is not ALL the fault of Fish and Game and the commercial fishermen. If we truly care about the salmon and other animals which live in our waters we need to be much more diligent about protecting our shoreline. I have no idea if pollution from the cruise ship industry plays a part in this, but we need to know that also. Pointing fingers at others is not enough, we have to take responsibility also.

Shelley Stallings
Ketchikan, AK - USA



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