A school of herring (Dagur Brynj��lfsson/Flickr)

Roe herring fishery approved despite opposition

Conservancy Hornby Island has received over 46,000 signatures on an online petition to close the fishery

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans recently approved a roe herring fishery in the Strait of Georgia despite calls to shut it down.

In accordance with the DFO’s 2018/19 Pacific Herring Integrated Fisheries Management Plan, a maximum harvest rate has been set at 20 per cent. Grant Scott, president of Conservancy Hornby Island, said this is equal to 27,500 tons of herring.

“We were hoping that DFO would listen to the people and seriously restrict this fishery that just doesn’t make sense,” said Scott. “Herring is the cornerstone species for many of the mammals, fish and seabirds who live in or migrate through the Strait of Georgia … To kill this many herring in the commercial fishery rather than leaving them to support these other species doesn’t make sense to us.”

READ MORE: Conservancy Hornby Island calls for government to shut down herring roe fishery

READ MORE: Federal minister dismisses call to close herring roe fishery

Herring are an important part of Chinook salmon diets, which in turn make up a large part of Orca diets.

According to Victoria Postlethwaite, Regional Herring Officer with the DFO, the maximum harvest rate is based on an annual stock assessment program that determines the status and biomass of the herring stock.

“While not always achieved in commercial fishery catches, the maximum 20 per cent harvest rate for the Strait of Georgia reflects the best available science which includes consideration of increasing natural mortality rates to account for predator needs (e.g., hake, salmon, marine mammals),” said Postlethwaite. “The harvest rate is tested to ensure it is robust to future uncertainties in natural mortality, and that the removal rate will keep the stock above conservation limits with a high probability (above 90 per cent) and over the long term (15 years).”

In recent years, other zones in the Strait of Georgia management area have been closed due to low spawn levels, including areas south of Nanaimo and along the Sunshine Coast. Haida Gwaii and the West Coast of Vancouver Island have also been closed to herring fisheries as stocks have been low and unproductive for some time.

Spawning herring are believed to not return to the same location they were born, but the environmental and biological drivers for herring to spawn in a certain area are still not well understood.

“The Department is working with First Nations in the Strait of Georgia area to better understand herring distribution, spawn dynamics, and traditional harvest areas,” said Postlethwaite.

Only around 10 per cent of the herring harvested will be consumed by people, said Scott, while the rest of the fish will be ground up into fish meal and pet food.

Postlethwaite said the primary product of the fishery is the roe which is harvested for human consumption, while the rest of the fish can be used for fish meal and fertilizer. The roe herring fishery is exempt from Section 31 of the Fisheries Act which prohibits this.

Conservancy Hornby Island has been campaigning against the fishery since the beginning of January and has received over 46,000 signatures on a Change.org petition.


jolene.rudisuela@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Water identified as the primary source of concern for Saltair residents

Pending filtration, dam and distribution systems are going to mean an added tax burden

Nanaimo-Ladysmith candidates talk environment, economy and governance

First all-candidates’ meeting was held Thursday at the Beban Park social centre

Candidates face questions on Nanaimo doorsteps about supportive housing and crime

Federal candidates asked about social issues on campaign trail

Review: Polish your language skills with The Foreigner

It’s all gibberish, but Charlie Baker’s personality receives a revamp in Chemainus Theatre production

Art studio takes over former St. Joseph’s School space in Chemainus

Public invited to a grand opening on May 1 to see what’s transpired

VIDEO: Killer whales hunt for seals in Vancouver harbour

Bigg’s killer whales feed on marine mammals like seals, sea lions, dolphins and even other whales

VIDEO: B.C.’s waving granny gets incredible send-off from school kids

Tinney Davidson has been waving at students on their way to school for over 11 years, but is moving in a month

Struggling B.C. adoption agency elects new board that intends to keep it open

The previous board announced that Choices would close May 31

Island-born Snowbirds pilot enjoying homecoming in skies over Comox

Logan Reid once stood clinging onto the fence outside the Comox Air… Continue reading

Attack on student in Courtenay ‘way more than bullying’, says mom

A Comox Valley mother said “it was way more than bullying” at… Continue reading

Vancouver man, 19, charged in human trafficking case involving teen girl

The 16-year-old girl was reported missing and later discovered in Vancouver

Blaine, Wash. inn owner, charged with smuggling people into B.C., granted bail

Robert Joseph Boule ordered to turn away anyone indicating a plan to enter Canada illegally

Most Read