Sitnews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska - Opinions



"Extinction" of a herring stock not the inevitable outcome
by Scott McAllister


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 and speculation.

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.


Scott McAllister
Juneau, AK - USA



Note: Comments published on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.


Post a Comment -------View Comments

Submit an Opinion - Letter

Stories In The News