Herring are a key component in the ocean ecosystem. (BP file photo)

Herring are a key component in the ocean ecosystem. (BP file photo)

First Nation files injunction against DFO for small Smith Inlet herring fishery

Herring stocks in Area 10 too low for commercial harvest, Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nations argue

Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw First Nations have filed an injunction against Fisheries and Oceans Canada to stop the commercial herring fishing season in their territory around Smith Inlet, on the mainland north of Vancouver Island.

For three years now, Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw have elected to not use their commercial licences — they have two of the three commercial licences available for the area — because their dive surveys indicate herring stocks are too low to sustain harvest.

It’s a small area, not even considered a minor fishery by DFO, but has major significance for the Nation.

“Despite past experience, we continue to be surprised by the way DFO ignores our input and concerns,” elected Chief Paddy Walkus said in a press release.

“For years now, we have not exercised our food fishery for herring spawn out of concern for conservation of dwindling herring numbers. Last year our technical experts found no herring activity.”

Smith Inlet, known to DFO as Area 10, is typically open for herring roe harvest from March 15 to April 15.

The injunction will be heard March 15 by the Federal Court, so DFO has agreed to delay opening the season in that area until after a decision is announced on March 17, according to lawyers for the First Nation.

The harvest of herring roe in the area would be limited to five per cent, according to the Integrated Fisheries Management Plan for herring. Only one commercial licence will be affected by the decision, since Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw have decided not to use their two licences.

In the injunction, they explain that their laws “impose strict obligations on the Nation to act as stewards of the herring fishery,” and the low number of stocks that started in 2018, “prohibits fishing until such time as the fishery properly recovers.”

As part of the injunction, Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw commissioned an ethnohistory of their herring fishery, that outlined the important place herring has in its society.

“Our people have been fishing in these waters for thousands of years. We have rights here, and those rights are constitutionally protected. DFO is supposed to give those rights priority in order to meet its constitutional obligations. We need an economic base to function as a Nation and access to a healthy diet – the sea is the basis of both of these things for our people,” Walkus said in the press release.

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca


DFOfishing

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Centre for Disease Control maps showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 4-10. (BCCDC image)
Parksville-Qualicum passes Nanaimo in new COVID-19 cases

Greater Victoria had more new cases than any other Island area: B.C. Centre for Disease Control

‘For Sale’ signs quickly turned to ‘Sold’ signs as record-high demand for housing meets record-low inventory. (Cole Schisler photo)
Multiple offers and unconditional sales rampant in Ladysmith housing market

Vancouver Island Real Estate Board Zone 3 director Susan Perrey says the market is ‘crazy all around’

From left to right: Vicki Barta, Bruce Ormond, Greg Heide, Gord McInnis, and Charles Harman rehearse via zoom for the upcoming radio play, “Visitor from Planet Zoltan”. (Submitted photo)
Radio plays prove successful for Ladysmith Little Theatre, four more in production

Ladysmith Little Theatre pivoted to producing radio plays during the pandemic

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Two men filmed removing red dresses from trees in Oyster Bay

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Vancouver Island Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

Ladysmith’s Taylor Walters received the Terry Fox Humanitarian Award and is hard at work pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Human-Computer Interaction at Quest University. (Submitted photo)
Ladysmith teen receives Terry Fox Humanitarian Award for advocating equal access to STEM opportunities

‘Different people think differently and that’s so important for innovation,’ Taylor Walters says

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

An armed officer walks outside Cerwydden Care on Cowichan Lake Road near Skinner Road Wednesday, April 14 around 5:30 p.m. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Police standoff at Duncan apartment ends peacefully

Officers surround building as homeowner held in apartment for nearly four hours by adult son

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C.’s pandemic aid package passing Legion branches by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance eligibility

Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread in B.C.

Infection risk higher in offices, retail, warehouses, farms

Hwy. 4 was shut down in both directions for 10 hours on March 23 as a rock bluff was blasted as part of Kennedy Hill’s ongoing construction. Commuters can expect five more 10 hour closures on five consecutive Wednesdays beginning April 28. (Photo courtesy of Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Five 10-hour Pacific Rim highway closures planned in the next 6 weeks

Closures needed for rock blasting as part of the Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement project.

Most Read