Monday, February 22, 2021

Limited opportunities ahead for North Coast herring fishery

Three may be fewer truckloads of herring heading out of town
for processing in 2021, that as DFO puts a limit on the catch
level for the upcoming herring season

The 2020-21 herring fishery won't be the gold rush of silvery fish of the legendary days of past, with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans announcing what will be a limited year for herring catch opportunities for this upcoming season.

The Integreated Fisheries Management Plan released on Friday has allocated for a maximum harvest level of five percent or 910 tonnes for the Prince Rupert District, while also allowing for limited access for spawn-on-kelp commercial fisheries.

The management  plan has also put in place fisheries closures for Haida Gwaii, while still allowing for First Nations food, social and ceremonial fisheries in all areas.

The document also highlights how the harvest approach outlined is designed to maintain a healthy herring stock that is pivotal to both ecosystems and the economy.

The sustainability of Pacific herring is a top priority for the Government of Canada. DFO conducts annual scientific surveys for each of the five major Pacific herring stock areas. The harvest approach utilized for this fishery has been rigorously tested by the Department following international best practices. This testing demonstrates that the harvest approach is highly likely to conserve the stocks over the long term. 

 Herring play a vital role in the ecosystem of coastal British Columbia and are a food source for marine mammals and other fish species. Harvest rates are applied to the estimated mature spawning biomass which ensures that the majority of mature herring, and all juvenile herring, are available to support ecosystem functions. Maintaining a healthy herring stock is pivotal to the ecosystem and economy, and this year’s harvest strategy will continue to help to protect the health of future stocks.

The output of production at local fish plants for the most part shifted from a full on processing of herring of a decade ago; to mostly one now of landing and shipping out by truck for further processing in southern plants in the Greater Vancouver area.

That has also meant a reduction in the availability of processing jobs for local fish plant workers over the course of the last ten years.

The decision for at least some form of a herring season for 2021 comes following some sparse years recently, including a complete closure two years ago.

Some notes on the Integrated Fisheries Management plan can be reviewed here

For more notes on the Fishing industry on the North Coast see our archive page here.

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