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Herring Controversy
by Andy Rauwolf


April 11, 2004

I'm glad to see Ron Porter finally throw in his "two cents" regarding the herring controversy. I'd like to touch on his points in this letter, as well as one of the comments that he has made in the past on this issue.

First of all, it is not "common knowledge" that herring are abundant around Juneau, and that "absolutely nobody is up in arms." Attached are two of the letters we received from Juneau residents 11 years after the close of the last sac roe fishery in Lynn Canal. Almost 14 years after the fishery, there was still so much controversy that the Juneau Empire saw fit to fun a two page story entitled "Mystery of the Missing Herring" in its December 10th, 1995 edition. Although there have been a little scattered spawn observed from time to time, it pales by comparison to what was once one of the largest biomasses of herring in Southeast Alaska.

Mr. Porter's attack on John Harrington was totally without merit. He took offense when John pointed out all of the sac roe fishing areas in Southeast Alaska that no longer exist. (John didn't even mention all of the bait fishery areas that are also depleted.) These areas were harvested under ADF&G's conservative harvest guidelines". Mr. Porter was quick to point out that two of these areas will once again be open.

ADF&G's strategy is to knock them down, wait for ten or twenty years (or more) until they reach a minimum threshold, and go back and knock them down again. These are the areas Mr. Porter calls "sporadic".

The problem is, as John correctly pointed out, most of these areas have remained depleted. How good can this be for the rest of the ecosystem which depends so much on herring for food, to have these vast areas continuously depleted? For one thing, it puts enormous pressure on the remaining stocks, as we have seen in West Behm Canal, with over 100 whales feeding simultaneously for a solid month before moving on. ADF&G has no way to quantify or adjust their fishery for this kind of natural mortality, which is one of the reasons why they continue to over-harvest these vital fish.

It seems that Mr. Porter has discovered a vast new species of herring in Lynn Canal, one that somehow reproduces without spawning, and is only visible to the trained eye of the herring fishermen and the ADF&G. It reminds me of another of Mr. Porter's explanations regarding what happened to the thousands of tons of herring in Carroll and George Inlets. The answer to this question, said Mr. Porter, is that "the Loran Station lights scared them away!"

Andy Rauwolf
Ketchikan, AK - USA



Letter 1

Letter 2


Related Viewpoint:

Finally Balance In The Herring Debate by Ron Porter - Ketchikan, AK - USA



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