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Togiak purse seine fleet wraps up season

May 13th | Dave Bendinger, KDLG Print this article   Email this article  

With just over a hundred tons left to fish, Alaska Department of Fish and Game calls it a season for Togiak purse seine fleet. No price given yet. Around 15 gillnetters still fishing, with about 6,000 tons left in their quota.

The Department of Fish and Game closed the Togiak purse seine fishing Sunday morning, saying there "was not enough quota remaining to justify additional fishing." That followed a Saturday harvest of 1,830 tons, which put the season total just under the 16,000 ton quota.

The finish line moved a bit through the weekend, based on unused quota from another fishery, then also due to the spotting of wasted fish known as deadloss.

"Under the plan, we can reallocate half of the unused spawn-on-kelp quota 70-30 to the seine fleet and the gillnet fleet," area management biologist Tim Sands explained Monday. There were 1,500 tons set aside for spawn-on-kelp, a fishery which hasn't happened in years. Seventy percent of half that amount is 525 tons the purse seiners could have fished.

"We reallocated that to the seine fleet, and then, as it turned out, we also documented some deadloss over there," said Sands. Fish and Game's estimate of the deadloss was 500 tons, nearly canceling out the reallocated tons. When Sands crunched the numbers Sunday morning, there was only a little more than 100 tons left to fish, and he closed them down for the season.

Deadloss is a waste of a large amount of herring, often from a set a seiner dumps after a tender refuses to buy for quality reasons. After the net has been tightened for the tender to pump, the lack of oxygen will begin to suffocate the herring. Dumping the net can result in a large pile of dead fish on the sea floor, which can be spotted by Fish and Game. The amount of waste is added against the fleet's catch. It's a number Fish and Game does not err on the small side when estimating.

Through Friday, ADF&G reported the seine catch has had a roe content of 11.3 percent, and the herring weighed an average of 413 grams. Sands said reports of the market quality have been mixed this season, including from between the point of harvest and the processing line.

"It sounds like, at least for the guys tendering it all the way back to Naknek, that there was some lessening of the quality in transit, maybe because of the weather," he said. The one floating processor reported "that the quality they were getting on the grounds pretty much held up through their production."

What the seiners are taking home for pay after fishing wasn't known Monday. This year's price may be waiting on the gillnetters, who are still chipping away at a quota of a little more than 7,000 tons. There were 11 of them on the grounds through the weekend, but the weather was too stormy to fish. The small fleet is growing but still has a long way to go.

"There's supposed to be more joining them today, I think at least another four, and they were less than a thousand tons of harvest," so far this season, said Sands.

Reach the author at dave@kdlg.org or 907.842.5281.

 

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