a herring stock not the inevitable outcome
April 07, 2004
OK enough on the herring thing. It is killing me reading all
these op-ed pieces by row boat conservationists who have no clue
about the science upon which herring management is based in Alaska.
Reading descriptions like "destruction derby," "wipe
out," "decimation", "extinction" and
so on are ... well, I can't handle such simple speculation of
doom and gloom.
For everyone's information, the most exact science of herring
stock assessment in the world (herring cover the globe in the
northern hemisphere) was developed and refined right here in
Southeast Alaska by ADF&G biologists. This was developed
out of necessity after indiscriminate fishing, under federal
management, for oil reduction and meal depressed stocks in the
1950s. Then, as herring stocks were recovering in the 1970s the
demand for roe herring increased and to prevent another collapse
of the stocks while also providing for commercial fishing, ADF&G
developed the science of stock assessment based on spawn deposition,
age composition and weight at age that is used today. Today this
is the most comprehensive herring management there is and is
recognized as such by scientists world wide. These are the methods
Phil Doherty has been employing to asses Behm Canal herring as
they have recovered to their current historic high level of abundance.
Under this kind of management, stocks are thriving state wide.
In Southeast Alaska, Kodiak and in the Bering Sea, herring stocks
have all been growing while being harvested; marine mammals abound,
King salmon are on the increase and all the while Alaska's commercial
fisheries are diversified to the benefit of our communities and
the tax base.
We are lucky to live and work in a time and place where this
is all possible and "destruction," "wipe out"
or "extinction" of a herring stock are not the inevitable
outcome of a fishing effort. It completely escapes me how narrowly
some people choose to see the nature of things around them and
are so ready to tear down a system that works based on anecdote
Thirty years ago I came to this state to be a commercial fisherman
when herring populations were at all time lows. Since, I have
experienced the rebound of stocks. All the while, conservative
commercial harvests have provided my family and the communities
of coastal Alaska important sources of income. I now look forward
to the next thirty years of herring and have all the confidence
that ADF&G has the science and skill to protect and develop
Alaska's herring resources to the benefit of all.
Juneau, AK - USA
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