Nearly 20 representatives from the Sitka Tribe of Alaska went to Anchorage Jan. 7 to testify before the Alaska Board of Fisheries about herring harvest issues.
Tribal members argue that the 2001 commercial sac roe herring fishery in Sitka Sound was conducted in their traditional roe-gathering spots, denying them the "reasonable opportunity" for subsistence harvest.
The STA proposal before the fisheries board would impose new management rules requiring dispersal of commercial seining areas to protect subsistence areas. But in seeking support from the Sitka Assembly, STA members said they would settle for a stricter interpretation of "reasonable opportunity" for subsistence harvest, as guaranteed by the Alaska constitution.
The state Department of Fish and Game has said reasonable opportunity was provided for subsistence gatherers during the 2001 herring spawn, and the STA proposal for dispersal of commercial fishing areas is not feasible.
The Board of Fisheries was not scheduled to take up herring at this meeting, but approved an agenda change late last year after STA argued that the issue should be addressed before the spring 2002 herring season.