2024 Herring Management Plan

It’s business as usual for these #BIGLittleFish. DFO prioritizes industry over ecosystems yet again increasing the herring fishing quota for 2024.

The integrated fisheries management plan (IFMP) for Pacific herring fisheries in 2023/2024 has now been released which defines where and how many herring can be fished in B.C. this season. This year, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) presented multiple harvest options for public input in the 2023/2024 Draft IFMP for Pacific herring. 

In December, Pacific Wild submitted feedback on the Draft IFMP, advocating for a coast-wide closure of commercial Roe fisheries, not including Indigenous Spawn on Kelp (SOK) fisheries. We hoped that the federal government was taking steps to meaningfully incorporate  feedback on the IFMP from First Nations, coastal communities, and British Columbians. Unfortunately, it is business as usual for the kill fisheries targeting these #BigLittleFish and DFO’s “talk and fish” approach to herring management carries on.

In a monumental step backwards, DFO has increased the total allowable catch (TAC) in the Strait of Georgia (SOG) by 1,433 tons. Quotas for the 2023/2024 fishing season is as follows:

Photo: Kali Wexler

Strait of Georgia (SOG):

The SOG will be open for Roe (and Food and Bait, Special Use) fisheries, at a 10% harvest rate to a maximum of 8,058 tons. Seine boats have been allocated  1,861 tons and gillnets may harvest 3,159 tons. 

In the Draft IFMP, DFO presented several harvest options  for input. They included a scenario using different variables that would have kept a 10% harvest rate, but lowered the total allowable catch by over 700 tons. Instead, DFO chose the scenario allowing for increased harvest,  boosting the quota in tonnage by 1,433 from 2022/2023. 

West Coast Vancouver Island:

Closed to commercial harvest. 

Central Coast:

The central coast will open for a 4% harvest rate for commercial Spawn on Kelp (SOK) and remain closed to all other commercial herring fishing. This is a 3% decrease from last year’s 7% harvest rate.

Prince Rupert District (PRD):

PRD will open to a 5% harvest rate to a maximum of 2,271 tons. Seine boats have been allocated 369 tons and gillnets may harvest 302 tons. Total allowable catch for PRD has increased this year by 485 tons.

Haida Gwaii:

Closed to commercial harvest.

Photo: Ian McAllister

Although we are ultimately disappointed, yet again, with DFO’s decision to prioritise industry over ecosystem, we commend them for heeding the requests of First Nations and independent scientists to keep Haida Gwaii and the West Coast of Vancouver Island closed to all commercial harvest to allow stocks to recover. Pacific herring populations are still in a dire state and deserve the protection of a fisheries moratorium until such a time that they have had the chance to recover, rebuild and uphold the ecosystems and coastal communities that depend on their return. 

You can stand up for Pacific herring by sending a pre-written letter to voice your opposition of B.C.’s unsustainable herring fishery. You can also add your voice by signing a petition to suspend the herring fishery in the Strait of Georgia.