Where is the Wisdom?
By Louise Clark
April 05, 2021
My people lived here for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years and feasted every spring on the wonderful delicacy of the herring eggs. They never harmed the massive numbers that came every spring for not only the humans, but every creature from the sky, land and sea. They savored and enjoyed the bountiful masses of herring that once came.
Unless you lived here in the 1930s or 40's you have no conception of what a true biomass of herring looked like. I remember as a child watching in awe because it literally looked like you could walk across to Pennock Island on the backs of the massive amounts of herring swimming by for days to their spawning grounds.
Once I flew will Ellis Airlines to Ketchikan I remember my amazement and awe at the amount of herring spawn on the beaches of Pennock and Gravina. The trees were more white than green from the countless eagles in them. I even stood on Steadman Street bridge and watched a boat load up with herring right in the creek.
Then the reduction plants came - huge ships that turned the herring into fertilizer. They took a terrible toll. Now the sac roe fishery is finishing them off. The sac roe fishery is the most harmful because it disturbs the very spawning grounds that starts the cycle.
When I was a young child we could go to any dock any time of the year and dig up some beautiful big herring for dinner or bait or even to pickle. If you do not believe me read June Allen's March 2004 article "A Biography of Alaska's Herring" in the SitNews archives. Ms Allen quotes an excellent letter from Andy Rauwolf and John Harrington who also condemned the sac roe fishery, recommending that it be banned immediately.
I now ask, what are the salmon, eagles, seagulls, sea lions, seals, humpback whales and many countless other creatures going to eat to survive when the herring have been totally destroyed?
Received Postmarked March 25, 2021 - Published April 05, 2021
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