Pacific Herring are Critical to the B.C. Coast Ecosystem

Cover photo by Kali Wexler

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Pacific herring play a critical role in the coastal ecosystem. They transfer energy from phyto and zooplanktons to larger marine animals including fish, seabirds and marine mammals. Herring feed Chinook and coho salmon, lingcod, halibut, and marine mammals like seals and humpback whales.

In turn, Southern Resident killer whales (SRKWs) feed on Chinook salmon. That’s right! Herring feed salmon feed whales! With both Chinook salmon and Pacific herring demonstrating population declines, this does not bode well for the endangered SRKWs. 

Pacific herring are also integral to terrestrial ecosystems. Bears and wolves head to the coastline to feed on herring eggs after the annual spring spawn. These and other creatures that live at the intersection of land and sea help to fertilize coastal forests by bringing nutrients from the herring spawn back into the forest.

Managing the herring fishery using ecosystem-based solutions is essential for protecting B.C.’s ecological diversity. Write a letter to Fisheries Minister and your local MP today to let them know why we need to protect this #BIGlittlefish.