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Pacific Herring in Lynn Canal, Alaska: Are They a Discrete Population?

figure 1, see caption

Lynn Canal Management area as defined by ADFG (Pritchett et al. 2008) and the subset studied by Carlson (1980) (yellow).  Non-spawning herring located by acoustic survey are indicated in green (summer) or blue (winter).  Spawning is color coded by decade; however these lines often overlap and not all temporal detail is visible.

On 2 April 2007 the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) received a petition from the Sierra Club to list Pacific herring (Clupea pallasi) in Lynn Canal, Alaska, as endangered or threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA). The petition identified the decline in Lynn Canal herring biomass and failure to recover as the principal symptoms (Fig. 1) and suggested that "ongoing destruction of spawning beds, degradation of water quality, and pollution associated with human developments now threaten the remaining spawning grounds."

In response, a biological review team (BRT) was formed to review the status of these fish and determine if Lynn Canal herring are a distinct population segment (DPS) of Pacific herring as defined by the ESA. The BRT included personnel from the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, National Park Service, and NMFS Alaska Regional Office with data and advice provided by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), the agency that manages Pacific herring in Alaska.

Based on available evidence, the biological review team concluded that Lynn Canal herring are not markedly different from other stocks in southeastern Alaska. Although their report concludes that Lynn Canal herring are not markedly different from other southeastern Alaska herring, the team recognizes there is evidence for discreteness.

Download the AFSC Division/Lab Report: pdf; 2.14MB>>>

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