PHONING IT IN – Lisa Langenfeld, court reporter, is pictured alone inside the Sitka Courthouse Tuesday as judge lawyers and others speak remotely over the audio system. A sign posted on the door says,  "Effective Immediately TELEPHONIC PARTICIPATION ONLY FOR ALL HEARINGS. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

First Herring Spawn Sighted in Sitka Sound


Sentinel Staff Writer

The first herring spawn of the season in Sitka Sound was spotted Wednesday, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said today.

Aaron Dupuis, assistant area management biologist, said he saw 3.9 nautical miles of spawn on the southern end of Kruzof Island, near Shoals Point. Some 4.8 miles was measured in the same area in today’s aerial survey.

“That’s a decent amount for this early – we still have a ways to go,” he said.

Fish and Game has not officially canceled the commercial sac roe fishery, but processors have told Dupuis they don’t plan to participate.

The Fish and Game research vessel Kestrel arrived from Petersburg March 19 to conduct vessel surveys to help assess the biomass in Sitka Sound, and left Wednesday. 

“If there was interest in a fishery, the Kestrel would also be needed to aid in management of the fishery,” Dupuis said.

Aerial surveys will continue until spawning is over, Dupuis said. The Kestrel will return to Sitka after the spawning is done, for herring spawn deposition surveys.  

Despite the unlikelihood of a fishery, Dupuis said the data being collected is important for “modeling and forecasting of the Sitka Sound herring biomass.”

Observers aboard the Kestrel March 24 and 25 saw two large masses of herring west of Bieli Rocks and north of Vitskari Island.

“Throughout the week it appears the number of herring was increasing,” Dupuis said.

Fish and Game expects the returning biomass this year to be one of the largest in the history of the fishery, at 212,330 tons. The guideline harvest level is 25,000 tons. 

Some 83 percent of the fish are expected to be 4-year-olds, and not a marketable size. Processors have also cited the disruption to the market caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.


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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 4-1-20)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 3 p.m. Wednesday. 

The list includes the total cases (and what portions are travel and non-travel-related or still being investigated):

 Total - 143 (40, 103)

 Anchorage area – 67 (24, 43)

 Homer – 2 (1, 1)

 Kenai – 1 (1, 0)

 Seward – 1 (1, 0)

 Soldotna – 2 (1, 1)

 Sterling – 2 (0, 2)

 Fairbanks area – 40 (7, 33)

 Mat-Su – 4 (2, 2)

 Juneau – 10 (1, 9)

 Ketchikan – 14 (2, 12)

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is nine, and the cumulative number of deaths is three.



Welcome to the Sitka Sentinel's web page. In order to make the Sentinel's news more easily available during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken down the paywall to access articles on this page. Just click on an article headline to read the story. 

March 23, 2020



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