by Andy Rauwolf
April 08, 2004
Scott is correct in saying that when he arrived here 30 years ago, herring stocks were at an all time low. That is perhaps one of the biggest problems today. At that exact time, ADF&G began surveying what was left of the spawning stocks in preparation for the new sac roe fishery. Those results were labeled the "pristine biomass", when a more appropriate term might have been the depleted biomass. Because of a mandated "maximum sustained yield" principle, those depleted numbers are the level of abundance ADF&G has tried, but failed to maintain to this day.
To call thousands of southeast Alaska's residents who have been here far longer than himself and have seen far more herring than he could imagine "row boat conservationists" is beyond the pale. I guess they should reverently accept the broad based, unbiased analysis of a thirty year commercial herring harvester as the gospel truth!
The letter extols the virtues of ADF&G's 'conservative management'. But herring fishermen haven't always felt that way. After the 1981 fishery in Auke Bay/Lynn Canal, ADF&G closed the area by emergency order due to the low herring stocks. Angry fishermen convinced Governor Sheffield to override the order and open the season in 1982. What was once the second largest herring stock in southeast disappeared, and has never recovered. Scott McAllister should know. He lives there!
When the sac roe fishery began, there were thirteen targeted areas of which six were major spawning grounds. Today only two remain. If marine mammals abound, why has there been such a drastic decline in Stellar sea lions in our northern waters? Starved whales have washed up on Washington's beaches and the largest herring stocks in Puget Sound area being considered for an endangered listing.
ADF&G patterned their management plan after British Columbia's, and their herring stocks are depleted as well. If herring stocks at Kah Shakes and Cat Island were so conservatively managed, why has there been no fishery there for six years, and why did ADF&G alter their own data to depict a more conservative fishery than what their original data discloses.
Residents in southeast Alaska have a right to be concerned, and don't want West Behm Canal to become another Lynn Canal, an area void of herring stocks. ADF&G's alibi that the herring have moved is correct. They moved, all right. They moved to Japan.
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