On Monday February 7th, Pacific Wild’s Marine Campaigner Emmie Page held a talk on herring conservation. In her presentation Protecting Pacific Herring: updates in conservation and management of B.C.’s foundational fish, Emmie discussed the importance of herring as a keystone species of Pacific coast marine ecology. The presentation discussed herring stocks and sustainable First Nations Spawn-on-Kelp fisheries, commercial fisheries, and new research that explores the difference between migratory and resident herring. The presentation included an video interview conducted with Eric Pelkey, Hereditary Chief of Tsawout of the W̱SÁNEĆ Nation who shared the life history and cultural importance of herring to Indigenous life.
This presentation comes months after the news from Canada’s Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Joyce Murray, announcing that the commercial herring quota is being cut in half with a maximum total allowable catch of 7,850 tons in the Strait of Georgia (SOG). Although relieved that the federal government is finally recognizing concerns of First Nations, coastal communities, and a wide array of British Columbians who advocate for a return to healthy herring populations on the B.C. coast, the fragile nature of herring stocks in the SOG would be better protected by a complete moratorium on the fishery. This would allow First Nations, government, and industry to develop a true ecosystem-based management plan while allowing stocks to recover. The traditional approach to management is outdated and has led to the collapse of four out of five management areas in the province.
Cowichan Valley Citizen