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ADF&G reports 'deadloss' on Tuesday survey of Togiak herring fishery

Dept. cautions that excessive dumped, dead herring is grounds for shutting down the fishery.

DILLINGHAM: Fishing continues for Togiak herring, as the gill netters remain open until further notice and the purse seiners are open for another 48 hours through 10:00 pm Friday.

The gill netters catch is confidential, as there are only two buyers. On Tuesday the purse seiners harvested 1,557 tons, bringing their season total just past 12,370 tons. Seiners are more than halfway to their season quota of 20,309 tons. Fish and Game reported the average herring weight dropped slightly to 393 grams, but the roe average is still 11.2 percent.

The Department also reported several areas of deadloss during an aerial survey Tuesday. Deadloss, said area manager Tim Sands, speaking Wednesday, is herring that have been caught by seiners but dumped prior to being pumped on board the tender.

"We see it as piles of dead fish on the bottom. You can see it because it's a big white or shiny area, and a lot of times there are a lot of birds or sea lions working on it," said Sands.

Sands noted that seiners can, and do, test the herring in the net while the net is loose, and can still release them if the catch isn't market quality. But once those herring have been brought to the tender and the tender starts to pump them, the net begins to dry up, and the herring are crammed into a smaller space, said Sands.

"It's very stressful for the fish, they're on top of each other, rubbing against each other. And they run out of water that has oxygen in it, so the fish in that area just start to die," he said.

What Sands said he is hearing is that some buyers, when pumping a set, discover the quality of the roe isn’t as high as they thought, and choose to dump the net. A lot of those fish might then die. That’s wanton waste, according to Sands, and it’s bad for the reputation of the fishery.

"We want to be responsible, and manage a good clean fishery. This kind of stuff just gives everybody a black eye," he said.

The Department used its daily herring announcement to remind buyers that once a set has been purchased the whole set should be pumped, and also pointed out that excessive deadloss is grounds for the Department to shut down the fishery.