No commercial harvest anticipated for Togiak herring

State fisheries biologists have issued a guideline harvest level (GHL) of 57,419 tons of fish for the Togiak herring fishery, but with no processors indicating an intention to harvest in that area, there will be no commercial fishery there this year.

In recent years harvesters have taken less than a quarter of what they were allowed, but the actual harvest has been kept confidential because there have been too few buyers, said Tim Sands, area management biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) in Dillingham.

The 2023 mature herring biomass forecast is 316,203 tons, based on an age-structured assessment model that was first used for the 1993 forecast.

Under a 20% exploitation rate, the 2023 potential harvest is 63,241 tons for all combined fisheries, and 57,419 tons for the Togiak sac roe fisheries (purse seine and gillnet).

The large forecast is due primarily to the highest estimated recruitment of age-4 fish on record in 2021, about 1.5 times the large recruitments seen in the early 1980s, and one of the largest recruitments on record in 2020, Sands said. 

Some herring is taken for subsistence, but harvest amounts were not available.


The Bristol Bay Herring Management Plan sets a maximum exploitation rate of 20% for the Togiak District stock. For the 2023 fishery the GHL will be based on a 20% exploitation rate. That includes 1,500 tons for spawn-on-kelp, 4,322 tons for Dutch Harbor food and bait, and 57,419 tons for the Togiak fishery, including 45,935 tons (80%) for purse seiners, and 11,484 tons (20%) for gillnetters.

ADF&G plans to continue to conduct aerial surveys to assess the herring biomass this year. The lack of interest for the Togiak fishery does not impact the Dutch Harbor food and bait fishery or GHL, state biologists said.