Category Archives: Sitka Herring

Sitka Herring

Sitka Herring Social Media Metrics 2014 | Infographic


Every spring, herring fishermen along the coasts of Washington and Alaska gather in Sitka Alaska for one of the largest aquatic migrations on the earth.  Herring gather in droves in the rocky shoals of Sitka sound.  This return of forage fish brings humpback whales and stellar sea lions to a natural buffet where nature’s bounty overflows.  The entire spectacle is easily one on nature’s greatest events.  Add in, one of the most competitive fisheries in the world and you have a recipe for chaos .  Fishermen battle for small chunks of water and dance between numerous nets, which are deployed in seconds as fishermen maneuver vessels within inches of each other.  It’s truly a site to see.

This year, social media played a huge part, as citizen journalist took to the pages of with many posts of videos, photos and links.  The following images are links to the most popular posts from the past month on the Facebook Sitka Herring page. offers a sweet way to view your Facebook Insights in one handy infographic.  The stats aren’t as amazing as last year, but there were way more posts and nearly 1000 new users.  I would like to give a huge thanks to everyone that uploaded photos and stories this season.  It’s great to see so many different perspectives of this action packed fishery.  Also, an extra huge kudos goes to the admin team who helps make Sitka Herring Sac Roe Fishery awesome!  Also, we will also be showcasing some of the best videos from past and present herring madness on our sister site,  Stay Tuned for the “Sitka Herring | Haul Of Fame!”

2013 Sitka Herring Social Media Metrics Recap

We can all admit that the Sitka herring fishery didn’t go exactly as planned this spring.  The fishery is usually pretty fast and furious once the spawn starts and this year was no different.  The herring went into full spawn mode within just a few days.  Before we knew it, there were 45 miles of spawn and the fishery was closed for the year.  As one of the administrators of the Facebook page, Sitka Sac Roe Herring Fishery, I thought it would be nice to elaborate on some of the social media metrics of the site.  First of all, we will start with the most popular images from the page.  All photos are judged by total reach according to the Facebook insights of the Sitka Sac Roe Herring Fishery Fan Page.   Social media played a huge part in this season’s fishery.  It was incredible to see the photos, comments, and videos pour in as the fishery was happening.  I would like to give a big shout out to all the contributors to the page.  This site is a great example of a crowd-sourced news campaign.  If you would like to keep up on all things commercial fishing, make sure to head over to  We will be updating the page throughout the summer with fresh pics and perspectives from the Alaskan salmon fisheries.  I urge everyone who posted on the Sitka Sac Roe Herring Page to head over and share your own commercial fishing photos and stories!   After the photos you will find a nice infographic with all the stats from the facebook insights.

The most popular image was a shot of the F/V Lady Brenda with a deck load of chubby herring.  The total reach of the photo was 12,933 people and this photo was uploaded on 3/29/13.  Click Here to go to the original post on facebook.

Lady Brenda #1

Next we have a great shot of the Cape Falcon with a 500 ton set in 1975.  This image reached 9,293 people and was uploaded on 3/28/13.  Click here for the facebook post.

Cape Falcon #2

Next up is the Sara Dawn making a frosty test set early in the season.  This image reached 8,637 people and was uploaded on 3/19/13.  Click here for the Facebook link.

Sara Dawn #3

Here is one of my favs from the season.  A crewmen jumps from the F/V Barwell to the F/V Lady Kay.  This image was by James Poulson from the Sitka Daily Sentinel.  The photo reached 7,815 people and was uploaded on 3/29/13.  Click here for the Facebook link.

Barwell #4

The last of the top five pics from the Sitka Sac Roe Herring Fishery page is a Caption contest with the F/V Sara Dawn and a sinking net.  This photo reached 4,603 people and was uploaded on 3/28/13.  Click here to see all the hilarious captions people thought up.

Caption Contest #5

There are a ton more photos on the site, so make sure to check out all of this past seasons uploads.  Once again, I would like to extend a huge thanks to everyone involved with the site, Angela Christensen, Jason Crosby, Kevin Kristovich, Seth Perry, and yours truly, David Clark.  I think you guys will be surprised by some of the stats.  Especially, that most of the viewers were women!  That one really threw me for a loop.  Here’s the graphic from that sums of the stats of the Sitka Sac Roe Herring Fishery Page.

State Of Things | In Your Element?


Wow! The lasts few weeks have been intense. Recently, I flew to Washington DC to represent commercial fishermen in the Tongass 77 campaign. Truthfully, I felt out of place in the middle of the sequestration process and the continued stagnation on Capitol Hill. Even though, I felt out of my element, I was excited to know that my voice didn't fall on deaf ears. The Tongass 77 campaign was well received by senators and legislators, alike. Within hours of arriving back in Seattle, I was on a boat heading north to Alaska for the Sitka Herring Sac Roe Fishery. While, I felt comfortable to be back in an environment that I have known so well, it wasn't long before the weather came up in Juan De Fuca and kicked our ass. In the midst of the boat heaving and tossing among the sea, I realized the ability of mankind to adapt and excel when they are taken out of their comfort zone. Being overwhelmed and displaced from your natural element allows us to discover our hidden instincts and talents. So, from the decks of a fishing boat, I realized that Washington DC was just other uncharted destination, that needs much more exploring. As for now… it's Sitka Herring time! I'll be switching gears from the political process to focus on this years' fishery. Stay Tuned for the latest updates from Sitka.


Canadian Herring Update | The Spawn Is On!

Canadian fisherman are currently on the water for this season’s herring harvest in the Straits of Georgia.  Here are a few updates from the local Canadian news sources.

On Tuesday alone, 1,800 tonnes were caught in the area between Comox Bar and Sandy Island.

The pre-season forecast for this year was 150,000 tonnes – a fraction of which is eligible for harvesting – which Spence said is considered “very healthy.” In-season estimates by the DFO seem to align with the forecast estimate, she added.

Pacific Herring are considered a keystone species for the area, Spence said, and are a source of food for predators such as salmon and sea lions.

The oily fish have also been a staple in B.C.’s fishing industry for the past 100 years, with roe herring accounting for 85 per cent of wholesale value of herring exports, most of which goes to the Japanese market.

Although the total export values were worth over $25 million in 2006, that figure declined to below $20 million in 2009, due to a variety of factors. Those include a flagging Japanese economy, declining stocks and competition from the Alaskan fisheries.

via Herring spawn sends fishers out into the Strait | Local News | Comox Valley Echo, Courtenay, BC.

via High hopes for new herring season | CTV Vancouver Island.


2012 West Coast Commercial Fishing Year In Review Part 1


In May, Copper River Reds started the salmon season off with a bang. A huge unexpected run pounded the Copper River flats as the season began with triple the amount of forecasted reds.  In 2012, 374,000 sockeyes were harvested in just the first two openers. Sadly, the price plummeted to as low as 1.25 a pound in the first few weeks of the record run. The rest of the salmon season of 2012 was fairly lackluster. Bristol Bay had a mediocre run of 20 million fish, which is down from the average of 25 million fish. Prince William Sound was expected to have a huge run and even convinced some southeast salmon seiners to abandon their disappointing southeast pink forecast in hopes of hitting it big up north. This clustering of boats sparked rumors of 90 boat lineups at some of the most famous hook offs in PWS. Southeast fishermen managed to find salvation in hatchery fish, primarily chum salmon, which provided great value to a fishery devoid of their traditional pink salmon. Check here for Laine Welch’s salmon summation for all the stats and facts of salmon in the various districts. Read on for a few more highlights in salmon news from 2012.

Early in the year it was evident that King Salmon runs were in big trouble. Southeast trollers suffered a dismal spring run, and northern regions, such as the Yukon and the Kuskokwim were declared a disaster by fisheries managers. By the year’s end, King salmon was a major disapointment for most of Alaska‘s different fishing regions. The king salmon run on the Kenai was the lowest on record, which goes back to the 1980s.

In October, the Alaska Chinook Salmon Symposium was held to Anchorage to deal with the dramatic declines in Alaska’s most precious species. King salmon declines for commercial fishermen were nearly 40% in recent years. The symposium graced participants with scientific data related to decreased runs throughout Alaska. Fisheries biologist used the term, “Black Swan,” to describe the event, which highlighted the lack of knowledge on the health of chinook run. Basically, there is no hard facts to explain the severe decreases in King salmon. This issue could seriously affect the future of salmon harvests in Alaska, as protection measures for chinook could limit salmon harvests in other species.

Perhaps, the biggest story in 2012 revolves around the concept of GMOs. Genectically Modified Organisms dominate our grocery stores and there is no clear way to differentiate between which foods that contain them and which do not. Many other countries have measures in place to make sure the proper labeling of these genetically altered ingredients. California fought the hardest with the “Right To Know” initiative, which would have distinguished all GMOs from natural products. Sadly, all legislation regarding labeling GMOs was shot down. Then, we have “Frankenfish.”  AquaBounty wants to be the first of its kind to create a genetically modified salmon that can grow twice as fast is it farmed counterpart. While the genectically altered salmon concept met strong opposition in the beginning of the year, it was a great surprise when the FDA announced their endorsement of “FrankenFish” over the holiday season. The nation struggled with various GMO legislative efforts throughout the year, but all were ultimately defeated by corporate juggernauts with huge financial lobbying pressures. Sadly, it’s likely that we will see Aquabounty’s salmon in stores by the end of 2013.


The battle between sport and commercial fishermen reached a fever pitch in 2012, as the IPHC released their catch limits at the beginning of the year. Overall, the commercial fishing cuts totaled a 20% decrease, or 7 million pounds less than the previous year. Sport fishermen in B.C. suffered the earliest closure of recreational fishing in history, spawning numerous debates about allocation of halibut rights between sport and commercial fishermen. Halibut continues to be a harsh subject for all fishermen and more cuts are likely in 2013. Scientists now realize that the stocks were being over estimated and the true estimate of the stocks are in a flat phase. Hopefully, with proper management, we will see an upturn in the projected biomass in the near future. Check out more facts here.


The Sitka Sac Roe Harvest prediction was cut short early this spring due to an early spawn and lack of the predicted biomass of 28,829 tons. In just three openers, fishermen harvested 13,534 tons, which is more of an average harvest for the fishery. Recent price fluctuations and the lack of Japanese demand in the wake of the 2011 Tsunami, has created a delicate market. Togiak also had an early spawn event in 2012, leading many to wonder about the predictive models used in the fisheries harvest forecast. On a lighter note, San Francisco herring harvests seem to have a glimmer of hope after years of disappointment. All eyes will be on the Sitka harvest this spring, which has a forecast of 11,055 tons. Togiak will come next will a large predicted forecast of 30,056 tons.


Dungeness Crab

California’s dungeness harvest for the 2011/2012 season was 31,680,250 lbs., with an average price of 2.99 per lb. Oregon crab fishermen harvested 14.2 million pounds at an average price of 2.95 per lb. in the 2011-2012 season. Washington’s Non-Treat Coastal Commercial Landings totaled 8,617,136 lbs. for the 20011/2012 season. This year, both northern fisheries were delayed into the new year due to a “meat fill” issue. Typically, the season begins on Dec. 1. In recent years, the dungeness price has reached record highs and demand remains strong for these west coast delicacies.

Part II will include Bering Sea Crab Landings, Shrimp, Squid, Groundfish, and Dive Fisheries


Commercial Herring Fishing Starts in San Francisco Bay

California fishermen are harvesting the first herring of 2013 in San Francisco Bay this week.  The total gillnet quota is 2,690 tons and the fishery  will last until March 15, 2013.  The historic herring stocks of the past are long gone, but the surge in sustainability and eating locally has sparked the troubled industry.  The real value of the herring comes in the from of the roe or eggs, which is a delicacy in Japan.  Market prices could improve this year, with smaller harvests predicted in Alaska.

Photo Jan 04, 7 40 01 PM————————————————————


Sitka Herring | Huge Cut In Quota After Record Forecast In 2012

This year, the Sitka Sac Roe herring quota shrinks  to 11,055 tons, which is a huge decline from last season’s forecast of nearly 30,000 tons.  The early closure of the 2012 fishery shows the lack of accuracy in the predictive models used to forecast this delicate species.  Alaska‘s history with the health of herring stocks is a tough story. Check here, Fishtory | Southeast Alaska And Herring, for more details.  The best hope is that this smaller quota allows the stocks to replenish, while market prices soar from higher demands.  The fishing fleet will likely be downsized this year with such a small quota.  All permit holders will remain constant, but the number of tender vessels might be curtailed  to deal with the smaller quota.

Photo Dec 13, 11 47 39 AM———————————————————————————

Grunnlovsdagen | The Vikings Are Lose | Petersburg’s Little Norway Fest 2012

Every year in May, the little fishing village of Petersburg, Alaska celebrates the local Norwegian heritage. The town is transformed for a four day festival that embraces the inner viking in all of us. Check out the local webcam and you might see a few vikings roaming the streets.  Click thru on the KFSK link to hear local audio.  Enjoy the youtube pick from last season’s festival.  Ha en fin søttende mai!


Main Street will be lined with concessions and food booths. Vikings and Valkyries will parade through the streets with their ship, the Valhalla and their Viking mobile. Other residents will show off their traditional Norwegian costumes called Bunader. All this and more is coming up as the 54th annual Little Norway Festival goes into high gear on its second day – Friday, the 18th. Matt Lichtenstein asked Festival committee co-chairs Holli Flint and Katie Eddy for a preview of Friday’s schedule.

via Little Norway Festival in swing | KFSK.