Herring catch spoiled after overheating

Posted: Friday, July 11, 2003

UNALASKA (AP) Some unchilled herring has gone bad in the Aleutian Islands.

The Dutch Harbor gillnet herring fishery will not reopen despite falling short of the herring quota, said Forrest Bowers, with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Unalaska, in part because some of the catch spoiled due to a lack of ice, warm weather and a wait for processing.

The final catch came in at 108 tons after two days of processing, short of the quota of 116 tons. However, the quota likely was exceeded when spoilage is figured in, which Bowers said is estimated at 12 tons. That would put the total catch at 120 tons.

Of the 108 tons recorded on fish tickets, 12 tons were spoiled, according to reports from the sole buyer.

Besides the recorded 12 tons of rotten herring, another estimated 8 tons of old fish were not accepted by the processor. Fish and Game based that estimate on the amount fishermen reported dumping overboard, Bowers said.

Bowers said the fishermen did not ice their fish until after the fishing period was over. He said they did not anticipate catching all the fish in one period and fishermen had to wait for processing.

Fourteen boats participated in the fishery. After two weeks of unsuccessful openings, all the fish were caught in the 24-hour period that ended at noon Monday. Royal Aleutian Seafoods in Unalaska was the only buyer, paying $400 per ton.

This was the third year of the gillnet-only fishery, created at the request of the Unalaska Native Fisherman's Association as an entry-level fishery for local fishermen, who generally hold other full-time jobs.

The larger-scale Dutch Harbor purse seine herring fishery opens July 15 with a quota of about 1,600 tons.

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