Herring are Worth More in the Water than in Nets

Herring are most valuable to British Columbia as the foundation of the coastal ecosystem and herring contribute more to British Columbia’s economy by feeding other species than by being caught and processed.

Cover image by Kali Wexler

Better management of herring populations is an investment in the B.C. economy. Many of the fish species that eat herring sustain coastal economies through enabling commercial and sport fisheries. In 2016, the B.C. sport fishing industry employed 9,000 people and generated approximately $1.1 billion in gross revenue. Further, the whale populations that rely on herring, like humpbacks and orcas, draw hundreds of thousands of tourists to B.C. Marine-based recreation contributes over $4.3 billion to B.C.’s economy annually (2014). Meanwhile, the herring fishery generated approximately $19 million in 2019.

Revenue generated by B.C.’s commercial salmon fishery decreased by more than $44 million from 2016 to 2019. This indicates that salmon populations are not what they once were, either. By protecting herring—Chinook salmon’s primary food source—we are also supporting salmon populations.