By Associated Press - Wednesday, April 1, 2020

SITKA, Alaska (AP) - The Alaska Department of Fish and Game measured miles of herring spawn in Sitka Sound, an official said.

A fish and game official said more than 4 miles (7 kilometers) of spawn was measured in an aerial survey Sunday on the Kruzof Island shoreline, The Daily Sitka Sentinel reported Monday.

The fish and game department was collecting data biologists say is important in the ongoing management of the state’s herring stocks.

“Numerous schools of herring were seen in north Krestof Sound,” said Aaron Dupuis, an area management biologist for the department.

Most of the spawn sighted in the aerial survey was in the area from Lava Island to Fred’s Creek, with small areas of spawn near Brent’s Beach on Kruzof Island and Eastern Bay on Krestof Island, Dupuis said.

Spawn on Kruzof was generally “winding down” while spawn in Eastern Bay was expanding, said Dupuis, who was still calculating the spawn mileage Monday.

About 83% of the herring returning this year are expected to be age 4, which is generally considered below marketable size.

But the returning biomass is expected to be one of the largest in the fishery’s history, the department said.

Processors have said they do not plan to participate in a commercial herring sac roe fishery this year.

Small fish size and market disruption caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus were cited as reasons for the processors’ decision.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

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