One of the better years for herring fishery

NANAIMO – Gillnet fishery wraps up as majority of spawning has taken place.

Herring fishing was good this season, says the owner of a local commercial fishing outfit.

James Millicheap, owner of Lasqueti Steeler Fishing Company, leases out seine fishing licences and said he is in contact with other fisherman, buyers and companies and the seine fishery was respectable.

“It’s one of the better years they’ve had,” Millicheap said. “The fish were good and they got them in a reasonable amount of time.”

Fisheries and Oceans Canada said herring are caught with seine nets by larger vessels and gillnets on smaller vessels, which try to catch fish as they spawn.

Brenda Spence, resource manager with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, said the seine fishery took place March 3-7 and a quota of 8,374 tons was achieved.

The gillnet fishery opened on March 6 and there is no set closing date, although Spence said it looks like the season is coming to an end, as the majority of spawning and the fishing has already happened. Fisheries and Oceans Canada flies over spawning areas to assess stock and no spawn was seen Wednesday and Thursday of last week, she said.

“The gillnet quota is 11,571 [tonnes] and the catch to date is 6,750, so they haven’t achieved their quota yet and they’re unlikely to now, just because the duration and intensity of spawns is sort of tapering off at the end of the season here,” said Spence.

Spence said Fisheries and Oceans Canada will hire scuba divers who will collect data on the number of layers of eggs.

“The data is put into a stock assessment model and that usually happens over the summer and in the fall. After [Fisheries and Oceans Canada] scientists finish analyzing the data, we’ll come up with a projection for the following year based on both on the spawn deposition and also some biological samples that we collect,” said Spence.

Spence said the projection will be announced in September.