As another Pacific herring season draws to a close the Department would like to take this opportunity to provide an overview of the spawning biomass and catch information for the season. The spawning biomass estimate for the 2013-14 season is 60,600 tons, which exceeds the historical average (1970-80 season to present) of 52,300 tons.
This is the fourth consecutive year of above-average spawning biomass and the fifth consecutive year of improved spawning biomass estimates since the historic low during the 2008-09 season. The Pacific herring commercial fishing season closed on March 14th this year and a total of 3,198 tons or approximately 93 percent of the of 3,442 ton herring quota was caught by the fleet.
Thirteen spawning events were recorded during the 2013-14 season, primarily in the northern areas of San Francisco Bay and into San Pablo Bay. Spawning events occurred from as far north as Point San Pedro and south to Coyote Point. The first recorded spawn of the season occurred November 22, 2013, and the last recorded spawn occurred on March 4-5, 2014.
There were several large spawning events in the Richardson Bay and smaller events to the east along the Marin county shore and at Point Richmond. The spawning biomass for the season was temporally and spatially well distributed. This type of distribution helps prevent over exploitation of a single spawning wave. It should be noted that the spawn at Point San Pedro could be considered outside the normal herring spawning range. Generally, herring do not spawn northeast of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. However, given the drought conditions experienced during the winter of 2013-14, herring were likely searching for lowered salinities in other areas of the San Francisco Bay estuary for spawning.
Please follow us again next season as the Department works to collect herring fishery data and manage this important California forage species.