by Pete Ellis
April 12, 2004
"Thank you Mr. McAllister. Finally someone who will step forward and defend the indefensible. It is interesting that Mr. McAllister does not like to hear us use such words as "decimate" when we talk about the destruction of the herring stock. But that was precisely what Mr. Doherty described in his presentation to us in Ketchikan. There is no argument. The harvest level has been established to precisely decimate the West Behm Canal Herring biomass. My fear is that it will go beyond that, and reduce the biomass to disastrous level of the last time West Behm Canal had a sac roe fishery 20+ years ago."
Likewise and perhaps even more meaningful are the comments of Andy Rauwolf in his April 08, 2004, Thursday, letter which responds to the April 7th letter by Scott McCallister regarding how well our herring stocks are recovering:
"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."
Those of us who have been around a few more years than McAllister and lived in the Ketchikan area can recall a huge biomass which would gather each spring in Tongass Narrows and allow all of us kids to snag herring at the city float for dinner plus provide barge loads of seine caught herring on which the seagulls would gorge themselves. That is the biomass volume which ADF&G should be endeavoring to return and is not allowing to return due to allowing harvesting of any extent in Southern Southeast Alaska. Fish and Game does not know what the parameters are and does not know what the life cycle requires in order to return these herring stocks to what they were 50 years ago. The only solution is simply to close it all and, with patience, wait for a return that will eventually restore this vital basic fishery resource to its original size. The salmon need it and the people are entitled to it. Some day it may be appropriate to again open the herring fishery. Certainly it should be closed and closed entirely for the indefinite future.
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