2020/21 Craig and Klawock Winter Food and Bait Herring Guideline Harvest Level - P.O.W. Report

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

2020/21 Craig and Klawock Winter Food and Bait Herring Guideline Harvest Level

The 2020/21 Craig/Klawock area herring guideline harvest level (GHL) is 19,456 tons. This GHLis based on a forecasted mature spawning biomass of 97,282 tons of herring and a 20% harvest rate. Regulations state that 60% of the GHL is allocated to the winter food and bait fishery and 40% to the Section 3-B spawn-on-kelp pound fishery (5 AAC 27.185 (h)). This sets the GHL in the winter food and bait fishery at 11,674 tons. Any GHL amount not taken by the winter bait fishery will be allocated to the spawn-on-kelp fishery and announced by March 5, 2021. Based on market conditions for the winter food and bait fishery, the kelp allocation for the spawn-on-kelp fishery at the maximum, and historical harvest and effort levels; the department expects the total herring catch-related mortality will be less than 3,000 tons.

The total GHL for the 2019/20 Craig/Klawock area was 11,014 tons. This was not based on a formal forecast but based on the 2019 spawn deposition survey estimate of the 2019 spawning biomass. In 2019, herring egg spawn deposition for the Craig/Klawock herring stock was approximately 1.7 times higher than the maximum historical estimate from 1976–2018. Samples from both the cast net and commercial harvest during the 2019 spawning event indicated the mature biomass was dominated by age-3 fish, 81% of cast net and 85% of the spring commercial catch. A formal integrated statistical catch-at-age assessment model forecast was not utilized due to large uncertainties in the model created by the unprecedented recruitment of age-3 fish. As a result of this large recruitment event, there was very low confidence in the model produced forecast of 86,081 tons. Therefore, the department used the more conservative 2019 spawn deposition estimate of 55,072 tons and a harvest rate of 20% to set the 2019/20 GHL. Cast net and commercial catch samples indicated the mature biomass in 2019 and 2020 was dominated by the 2016-year class; age-3 herring in 2019 and age-4 herring in 2020. This large 2016-year class has also been documented in age composition and survey estimates in multiple Gulf of Alaska stocks (e.g. Sitka Sound, Prince William Sound, Kodiak). Given the unprecedented estimated recruitment of age-3 fish in 2019 and the increased impact of uncertainty in model estimates of mortality and maturity on the forecast because this year class was still not fully mature in 2020, there is greater uncertainty in the 2021 forecast than normal; however given two years of consistent age data and spawn deposition estimates, the department is utilizing the model forecast to determine the 2020/21 GHL. The forecast suggests that the age-5 year class will be 91% of the spawning biomass in 2021.

Section 3-B and District 4 (Craig/Klawock): opened at 12:01 a.m., Thursday, October 1, 2020, in those waters of Section 3-B west of a line from Blanquizal Point at 55°37.36′ N lat, 133°23.86′ W long to Point Santa Rosalia at 55°34.25′ N lat, 133°24.84′ W long to Point Cuerbo at 55°28.51′ N lat, 133°19.00′ W long to Point Miraballes at 55°25.87′ N. lat, 133°05.22′ W long and in those waters of District 4 north and east of a line from Lontana Point at 55°12.25′ N lat, 133°20.12′ W long to Diver Point at 55°11.02′ N lat, 133°14.36′ W long with the following restriction:

Trocadero Bay: will be closed east of the longitude of the westernmost tip of Canoe Point at 133°01.48′ W long.

Fishermen and operators of tendering vessels must obtain an ADF&G permit to participate in the Southeast Alaska Winter Food and Bait Herring Fishery (5 AAC 27.179). Permit applications are available at ADF&G area offices in Ketchikan, Sitka, Petersburg, and Douglas.

For the 2020/21 season, the department is requiring that permits be issued by ADF&G prior to fishing. Terms of the permit stipulate: 1) the amount of herring harvested and delivery location be reported to the Ketchikan office for Section 3-B and District 4 by 12:00 noon on the day after fish were harvested; 2) logbook forms must be completed and submitted with fish tickets; and 3) one 5-gallon bucket of herring is to be provided to the department from each delivery for catch sampling purposes.

Under Alaska’s Health Orders 5, 6, and 8, commercial fishing is an Essential Business and is part of Alaska’s Essential Services and Critical Infrastructure. Commercial fishermen should ensure that all travel and other activities in support of commercial fishing operations follow protocols in Alaska COVID-19 Health Orders. COVID-19 Health Orders may be found here: https://covid19.alaska.gov/health-order/.

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