Daily Sitka Sentinel
The quota this year is at an all-time high, 28,829 tons, based on an estimated biomass of 144,143 tons.
Dave Gordon, area management biologist for the Department of Fish and Game, said he surveyed all areas of Sitka Sound, south to Crawfish Inlet and north to Salisbury Sound.
Areas to the south were quiet with minimal bird and sea lion activity, he reported. On the north end, Gordon counted 130 sea lions in Katlian Bay, 20 off Harbor Point, seven off the eastern side of Big Gavanski Island, eight on the east side of Middle Island, 15 in Eastern Bay and 25 in Hayward Strait.
Eight whales were spotted from Halibut Point to the mouth of Katlian Bay; and two in Eastern Bay. Farther north, Gordon counted 25 sea slions scattered between Kane Island and St. John Baptist Bay, and two whales north of Kane Island.
The department is holding off on further aerial surveys until Friday, and said practice sets may be done in the deeper waters of Eastern Channel south of Jamestown Bay.
No test samples have been taken yet. The department will hold an organizational meeting with permit holders no later than March 25, but will be scheduled earlier if a fishery is imminent.