EVENT RECAP: A celebration of herring

Jun 30, 2015
Colette Heneghan

The herring spawn is one of the greatest natural history events on planet Earth.

It is so revered by the Heiltsuk First Nation of Bella Bella, B.C. that the new year is marked by the miracle of the herring spawn in ancient and contemporary traditions. In recent years, however, this foundation fish has become endangered by overfishing and other environmental challenges, threatening the diversity and future of the populations that call the Great Bear Rainforest home.

One of every 10,000 herring eggs produces a fish.

After several years’ effort to reform the fishery, the Heiltsuk’s struggle to protect this keystone species finally made a breakthrough this past spring, when the Department of Fisheries and Oceans agreed to the joint management of central coast herring stocks with the Heiltsuk Nation.

On June 9, 2015, hundreds of people gathered at The Gulf of Georgia Cannery in Steveston, B.C. to join the Heiltsuk Tribal Council in celebrating this milestone and renewed hope for the species’ future.

The Heilstuk welcome guests to the Gulf of Georgia Cannery.

The Heilstuk provided traditionally harvested herring and roe, prepared by Vancouver’s world-renowned Hawksworth Restaurant.

Following presentations by and Heiltsuk hereditary chief Harvey Humchitt, Common Sense Canadian journalist, Damien Gillis, and award-winning author and marine specialist, Dr. Rikki Ott, Pacific Wild Executive Director Ian McAllister joined them in urging attendees to continue to support the Heiltsuk’s efforts to protect B.C. herring.

The event also showcased staggering new video footage of the 2015 herring spawn (yet to be publicly released), as well as a silent auction featuring the work of Heiltsuk artist, Ian Reid.

Heiltsuk Chief Councilor, Marilyn Slett, and Pacific Wild's Ian McAllister unveil a special contribution from Heiltsuk artist and cultural leader, Ian Reid.

All funds from the event have been put towards the Heiltsuk Nation’s development of this management plan, as well as other efforts to protect herring.

Our thanks to the event sponsors for supporting such a wonderful event: Denman Island Chocolate, Otalith Music Festival, Painted Wolf Wines, Postmark Brewing, Peacock and Martin Wine Agents, and Skipper Otto’s Community Supported Fishery.

In particular, we extend our gratitude to Ian Stotesbury for documenting the evening

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