Sitka Herring Festival is a collaborative effort to promote the ecological and cultural importance of Pacific herring to Sitka and the North Pacific Ocean.
Although herring may be one of the smaller fishes that swim the waters of Southeast Alaska, their impact on the culture and the ecosystem of the region is immense. Archaeological evidence, Traditional Knowledge and clan stories all support the fact that Alaskan Natives have been utilizing herring as a subsistence resource for thousands of years. The practice of harvesting and distributing subsistence herring eggs continues to this day. Herring are such an ingrained and spiritual part of the Native way of life that they are considered a cultural keystone species.
Being one of the most prevalent forage fish in the region, herring play a critical role in supporting the marine ecosystem. Herring transfer energy from primary producers (phytoplankton) and secondary producers (zooplankton) to upper trophic level prey species. Herring are considered an ecological keystone species whose presence in Southeast Alaskan waters is critical to the existence of healthy populations of shellfish, finfish, marine mammals and sea birds.
The Sitka Herring Festival is a celebration of this invaluable aquatic species by acknowledging the cultural and ecological importance of herring through:
1) Education on the cultural and ecological importance of herring;
2) Promotion of indirect and “non-consumptive commercial” use of herring;
3) Promote herring conservation.