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May 14, 2002
Contact: Greg Bargmann, (360) 902-2825

International workshop planned on herring stocks

OLYMPIA – The steep decline in the Cherry Point herring population in northern Puget Sound will be a key topic of discussion when top fisheries scientists from throughout the northern Pacific Rim converge in Bellingham June 11-13 for an international workshop on Pacific herring.

Sponsored jointly by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the Washington Department of Ecology, the public workshop will provide a forum for fisheries scientists from Washington, California, British Columbia, Alaska and Japan to discuss the latest research on one of the region's most important forage fish.

"Herring play a critical role in the marine environment, providing an important source of food for salmon, seabirds, marine mammals and a wide variety of other fish," said WDFW Director Jeff Koenings. "We've invited top scientists from throughout the Pacific region to help promote a better understanding of the science underlying management of this important species."

Seating is limited, but fisheries managers, environmentalists and others interested in attending the workshop are encouraged to register by calling (360) 902-2700 or sending an e-mail to herring@dfw.wa.gov

Speakers at the workshop will discuss stock status and identification, as well as the effects of diseases, climatic changes and contaminants on herring development. A special session will focus on the herring population at Cherry Point near Bellingham – once Washington's largest stock – which has declined precipitously since the 1980s.

Greg Bargmann, WDFW marine fish program manager, noted that most of Washington's other herring stocks are stable, although one – at Dungeness Bay on the northern Olympic Peninsula – remains depressed.

"It's interesting to note that Dungeness Bay is a relatively pristine marine environment, so it's clear that there is no single answer for why some herring populations thrive while others decline," Bargmann said.

Additional information on the "2002 Pacific Coast Herring Workshop and Herring Summit" is available on the Internet. Information on the decline of the Cherry Point herring stock is also available on the WDFW website.