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Extinction of herring would be devastating
by Lawrence "Snapper" Carson


March 17, 2004

Presently there are many probems and challenges facing Alaskan Residents. Some of these will be over come, and some will adversely effect future generations of Alaskans and our wildlife.

One of the problems we are facing now is the possible extinction of the herring population. The extinction of herring would be devastating and could also lead to the demise of several species of fish and marine mammals who feed on them.

Herring have been over harvested and exploited by government controlled fishing for years. The herring reduction fisheries decimated many populations that never survived and many that will never be what they were before the reduction fisheries.

Even bait herring fisheries have depleted stocks but still continue with much smaller quotas. Historically, all of Ketchikan's bait was taken from Tongass Narrows, in front of Tongass Trading. Imagine trying to do that in 2004?

Roe fishing doesn't have a shining record of conservation of its fishery stocks either. Many areas that supported large quotas in years past are now closed or cut back. Even Sitka's herring quota was reduced this year from its original estimated harves. Why? We have and continue to take too many herring.

In the Pacific Northwest the production of salmon is at an all time high. Not only for wild stock enhancement, but artificially established stocks and escaped farm salmon. Bottom line, they all eat herring.

The protection of marine mammals has also increased the mouths at the diminishing herring feast. In the past few years it is not uncommon to see humpback whales and well as large groups of sea lions consuming herring in Behm Canal.

Our local Department of Fish and Game has also been harvesting this stock. Anywhere between 50 to 100 tons per year in the name of scientific research. Thes fish are caught by Alaskan Fishermen and then put on Canadian Tenders and taken to Canada to be processed. Does this program benefit Alaskans?

The Behm Canal Roe Fishery was proposed in Wrangell and established in Sitka, not Ketchikan. There was never any timely input for discussion of this fishery that effects so many.

To me, for the State of Alaska to reestablish this fishery makes as much sense as clear cut logging all of Behm Canal and reinstating all of the pre-statehood salmon fish traps. If this proposed fishery is allowed to proceed its consequence can only bring another huge negative impact on these ever diminishing herring stocks.

Lawrence "Snapper" Carson
Ketchikan, AK - USA



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