Budget cuts result in lower allowable harvest

ADF&G errs on side of caution, lowers allocation to 22,943 tons

State fisheries biologists hindered by no budget for data collection have set the 2017 Togiak herring fishery allocation at 22,943 tons, with 16,060 tons, or 70 percent for purse seiners, and 6,883 tons for the gillnet fleet.

The Dutch Harbor food/bait allocation was set at 1,727 tons.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists issued the 2017 Togiak herring forecast on Oct. 3, noting that it was based on a maximum 20 percent exploitation rate of the projected biomass as defined in regulations for the Bristol Bay Herring Management Plan.

Last year the Togiak District sac roe fishery allocation of 28,782 tons included 20,148 tons for the purse seine fleet, while gillnetters for 8,635 tons, and the Dutch Harbor food/bait allocation was 2,166 tons.

Due to drastic cuts in the state budget, no funds were allocated to estimate the Pacific herring spawning biomass or to estimate the age composition of the 2016 harvest. This was a departure from employing the department’s usual age structured assessment model to forecast spawning biomass of Togiak herring. The age structured assessment model requires estimates of the spawning biomass as well as estimates of age composition of the spawning biomass and the harvest.

Absent the necessary budget, biologists forecast the 2017 biomass as the average spawning biomass for 1978 through 2015, less 10 percent to err on the side of conservation.


Togiak’s herring fishery is the state’s largest herring fishery. From 1995 through 2014, sac roe harvests averaged 21,672 tons, worth an average of $4.94 million annually, ADF&G noted in its 2015 Bristol Bay area annual management report.

Given the volatile nature of the herring sac roe market, historic harvests and value are of limited utility when contemplating future harvest or value, according to the management report.

Last year the sac roe harvests were worth $1.08 million to permit holders, well below the 10-year average of $2.86 million. That value represents the grounds price and does not necessarily include postseason adjustments. There has been no spawn-on-kelp fishery since 2003.

Figures on the final harvest values for 2016 are still being compiled.