HERRING: Historic win for Pacific herring as First Nations co-management agreement is reached

Jan 27, 2016
Ian McAllister

After decades of mismanagement and overharvesting, Pacific herring - the foundation of the coast –are finally being given a reprieve from industrial fishing.

On January 18, the Heiltsuk Nation and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) formally announced that they reached an agreement for a 2016 Central Coast Herring Management Plan. The DFO has yet to release the plan publicly, but a press release issued by the Heiltsuk Tribal Council has confirmed this year's plan means better stock assessments, a significantly reduced industrial kill-fishery, new closures, and DFO’s commitment to the Heiltsuk to improve transparency and collaborative management.

This time last year

Years of industrial fishing resulted in near collapse of local herring stocks and, in 2015, after their tribal ban was violated and an industrial seine kill fishery took place in Spiller Channel, the Heiltsuk occupied DFO offices on the central coast and in Vancouver. After days of occupation and negotiation, the gillnet fleet went home without putting their nets in the water, and the battleground moved from the Great Bear Sea to Parliament Hill. 

This month's announcement marks a major step in the right direction for sustainable fisheries and respectful government relations with coastal First Nations. This type of science-based approach, with sound, enforceable policies, makes for the kind of regulations that can keep the coast - its ecosystems and economies - healthy and strong for generations.

We are proud to have played a part in the Heiltsuk's historic achievement - but our work here isn’t done yet. 

What to expect when the herring spawn this year

In March, we will take the campaign to the sea. With our team of researchers, divers and filmmakers on board, we will continue to bring stories from the front-lines of what is considered one of the greatest natural history events on planet Earth and monitor the fishery to ensure DFO sticks to their side of the deal.

To learn more about what we’re planning this season, click here.

Donate. Help make our productions and outreach as strong as possible this season by making a donation to Pacific Wild’s work above- and underwater. Click here.

Follow along on social. Make sure you’re following us across our social media channels in time for the herring spawn this March. You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Learn More