November 15, 2006
The incident occurred in Sawmill Bay, near Chenega, where the Fish and Game research vessel Solstice was using a purse seine to sample herring concentrations. While closing the seine at about 7:00 pm Thursday, the crew noticed that a whale had become entangled in the net. They immediately stopped pulling the net in, and began extensive efforts to free the animal. Crewmembers cut the net, cut lines and let loose as much mesh and line as possible. Tragically, after more than half an hour of effort, it became clear that the whale was dead.
As soon as possible, ADF&G contacted the federal agencies with responsibility for marine mammals. Because of the weight of the whale and the seine, the crew was unable to haul it up to the surface. At this time, ADF&G personnel are waiting for the whale to float to the surface. It will then be tracked while arrangements are made to bring personnel from the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward and the National Marine Fisheries Service to the site.
ADF&G has been doing test
fishing for herring in Prince William Sound every fall since
the early 1990s. The data gathered from these fish will help
determine long-term trends in the population that has been below
the threshold for a commercial fishery since 2000. ADF&G
is careful to avoid any impacts on whales and other marine mammals
during its test fishing activities and is reviewing this incident
to determine whether additional measures might help avoid such
accidents in the future.
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