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

City of Nanaimo needs a new garbage truck due to population growth

New automated truck comes with price tag of $430,000

NDSS senior girls win Vancouver Island basketball championship

Nanaimo District wins first AAA girls’ Island title in 29 years

WEB POLL: What’s Nanaimo’s worst intersection?

ICBC stats say the old Island Highway, Bowen Road and Norwell Drive is the worst. What do you say?

Nanaimo RCMP and police dog track suspect through wintry backcountry

Assault suspect arrested after two-hour track by police dog Jager through snow and steep terrain

VIU volleyball teams bound for provincials

Vancouver Island University Mariners men and women in contention at PacWest championships

Western Edge’s New Waves Festival brings new plays to Harbour City Theatre

Nanaimo and Denman Island playwrights to have work premiered this week

Ontario man accused of killing 11-year-old daughter dies in hospital, police say

Roopesh Rajkumar had been hospitalized with what police described as a self-inflicted gunshot wound

Manitoba ‘pauses’ link with ex-B.C. premier Gordon Campbell after allegations

Campbell had been hired to review two major hydro projects

City of Port Alberni cancels tourist train operations for 2019

Steam train to McLean Mill is out of commission for repairs; city wants to re-examine rail costs

Heritage minute features Japanese-Canadian baseball team, internment

The Vancouver Asahi baseball team won various championships across the Pacific Northwest

UPDATE: Woman, off-duty cop in critical condition after stabbing outside B.C. elementary school

The officer was interceding in an alleged assault when he and the woman were stabbed

$10-a-day child care not in 2019 budget, but advocate not irked

Sharon Gregson with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. says NDP on track to deliver promise

B.C. Seniors Advocate questions labour shortage in care homes

Are there really no workers, or are care aide wages too low?

B.C. business groups worry about looming economic decline in wake of NDP budget

The party’s second government budget focused on plenty of spending, business advocates say

Most Read