The Alaska Department of Fish and Game takes a look back at this year's Togiak herring fishery.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game released its 2018 Togiak Herring Season Summary on Monday, looking back on the season’s harvest and estimating the exvessel value. Bad weather and rough seas drug out the season for the state’s largest herring fishery, but fishermen were still able to take the full quota.
"My guess is we would, in a normal season, have the processing capability to take the whole quota within seven days or so,” said ADF&G area management biologist, Tim Sands. “It took us 11 or 12 days [this year]."
Even though it took longer than normal, the 20 participating seiners brought in 16,829 tons of herring. That came to 98 percent of the quota set by ADF&G.
ADF&G projects that fishermen will receive $100 per ton of herring, which would bring the total exvessel value of the fishery this year to about $1.65 million. That figure is based on an advance price estimate and does not include postseason adjustments.
This has been the average price for Togiak herring for the past few years, but that wasn’t always the case.
"At its peak, it was a $1000 a ton or more. $100 dollars a ton is far cry from that," said Sands.
The drop, according to Sands, has to do with changes in the Japanese market where the roe is sold. With the decreased financial returns, the gillnet fleet has already dwindled, and Sands noted that if the price falls more, it could further limit participation in the fishery.
"Fishermen just can't make it work for less than $100 a ton. Even seiners can't.”
One gillnet vessel turned out for the fishery this year, but no numbers have been released on its catch since it was the sole participant of its gear type.
Sands said the vessel was not able to take anywhere near the gill net quota for the herring fishery, but the captain seemed satisfied with how his season went.
Based on this year’s herring run, Sands also noted that the herring population appears stable.
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