Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii) are the only forage fish commercially harvested in the State of Alaska and are not listed on the State of Alaska's Forage Fish Management Plan (FFMP). The Plan lists exemption to all of the various herring fisheries throughout Alaska but does not specifically acknowledge Pacific herring as a forage fish.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) manages herring stocks under single species maximum sustained yield models. These management strategies use inadequate biomass harvest thresholds combined with excessive harvest rates that put stocks at risk of over exploitation.
Pacific herring are not only an ecological keystone prey species for finfish populations (salmon, halibut, etc.), marine mammals, and marine and terrestrial birds but they are also a cultural keystone species that has been and continues to be used by Alaska Natives as a subsistence food source. Adding Pacific herring to the State of Alaska's FFMP would require ADF&G fisheries managers to acknowledge herring as a forage fish species and is the first step towards a more conservative management approach.
Petition in Support of Adding Pacific Herring to the State of Alaska's Forage Fish Management Plan
To the Alaska State Board of Fisheries through Chairman Johnstone,
I support the regulatory change, Board of Fisheries proposal 243, which would add Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii) to the State of Alaska's Forage Fish Management Plan. The existing administrative code (5AAC 39.212) fails to include all species of forage fish indigenous to the waters of Alaska. The board recognizes that abundant populations of forage fish are crucial to sustaining healthy populations of commercially important salmon, groundfish, halibut, and shellfish species. Herring are an ecological keystone prey species for many finfish populations, marine mammals, and terrestrial and marine birds. Please add Pacific herring to the State of Alaska's Forage Fish Management Plan. Failure to do so will compromise the existence of herring stocks throughout the State of Alaska.