News Release: NOAA Fisheries finds Southeast Alaska Pacific herring ESA listing not warranted
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National Marine Fisheries Service, Alaska Regional Office

Southeast Alaska landscape. Photo: Mandy Lindeberg

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April 2, 2014
Julie Speegle, 907-586-7032 w., 907-321-7032 c.

NOAA Fisheries finds Southeast Alaska Pacific herring ESA listing not warranted

stunned herring brought to the surface by a humpback whale
Gulls feed on hundreds of stunned herring brought to the surface by a humpback whale. By disrupting herring aggregations at depth, whales make herring available to other air breathing predators with limited diving abilities. Photo: NOAA Fisheries

NOAA Fisheries has concluded that listing of the Southeast Alaska Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of Pacific herring under the Endangered Species Act is not warranted at this time.

This listing determination decision comes after an extensive status review based on the best scientific and commercial information available.

In 2007, the Juneau Group of the Sierra Club petitioned NOAA Fisheries to list Pacific herring in Lynn Canal under the ESA. NOAA completed a status review and published a finding in 2008 that listing the Lynn Canal Pacific herring as threatened or endangered under the ESA was not warranted because the population does not constitute a species, subspecies, or DPS under the ESA.

The 2008 status review found that Lynn Canal Pacific herring are part of a larger Southeast Alaska DPS of Pacific herring, which should be considered a candidate species under the ESA. NOAA Fisheries then began a status review of the Southeast Alaska DPS of Pacific herring.

Following the new status review of the larger Southeast Alaska population, NOAA Fisheries has found that listing the Southeast Alaska DPS under the ESA is not warranted at this time. Herring in Southeast Alaska have shown a positive trend in abundance between 1980 and 2011, and are exhibiting positive trends in growth rate and productivity. Although local spawning aggregations may periodically exhibit low levels of abundance, these aggregations appear to rebuild in time, possibly due to immigration from other areas. While there are some threats from habitat loss in urban areas, NOAA Fisheries concluded that Pacific herring in Southeast Alaska are not likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future.

The Southeast Alaska DPS of Pacific herring extends from Dixon Entrance in the south, where it is genetically distinguished from the British Columbia stock; to Cape Fairweather and Ice Point in the north, where the stock is limited by physical and ecological barriers.

Herring are a keystone species in Southeast Alaska, playing a central role in marine food webs and also of significant importance as a commercial and subsistence species in many communities.

Regulations pertaining to the herring fishery are adopted by the Alaska Board of Fisheries, after consideration of social, political, and economic factors, as well as scientific input from ADF&G.

A copy of the decision is available online at the NOAA Fisheries Alaska Region Southeast Alaska Pacific Herring website.

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