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2008 Washington State Herring Stock Status Report

Category: Fish/Shellfish Research and Management - Management and Conservation

Date Published: November 2009

Number of Pages: 111

Publication Number: FPA 09-05

Author(s): Kurt C. Stick and Adam Lindquist


This is the fourth edition of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife herring stock status report. Similar to previous editions, this document uses localized documented herring spawning grounds in Washington waters to represent discrete stocks. Several genetic studies published since 2001 have demonstrated that some Puget Sound herring stocks (e.g. Cherry Point and Squaxin Pass) are genetically distinct from other Puget Sound and British Columbia herring. However, differentiation has not been demonstrated between other sampled Puget Sound spawning aggregations, suggesting that sufficient gene flow between stocks may occur that reduces genetic divergence. The results of these studies indicate that it may be more meaningful to examine abundance trends of Puget Sound herring on a larger scale than the individual stock level presented in this report and point out the importance of annual sampling of all known spawning populations in Puget Sound.

The cumulative abundance of south and central Puget Sound herring stocks in recent years is comparable to that observed in the 1970’s and 1980’s, while the Cherry Point stock, and cumulative north Puget Sound (excluding the Cherry Point stock) and Strait of Juan de Fuca regional spawning biomasses are at low levels of abundance. Stock status classifications reported since 1994 have also followed similar trends, with the south/central region stocks generally considered healthy or moderately healthy and the other regions considered less healthy. For the 2007-08 period, less than half (47%) of Puget Sound herring stocks are classified as healthy or moderately healthy. This is the lowest percentage of individual stocks meeting these criteria since development of the stock status summary in 1994, although very similar to the status breakdown for the previous two-year periods (2003-04 and 2005-06).