Monday, March 22, 2021

Coast Tsimshian express concerns over herring stocks; call for 'necessary commercial herring fishery closure'

Calls for a suspension of
the Herring season are
being issued by the 
Coast Tsimshian today
Officials from fishery groups with Metlakatla and Lax Kw'alaams are relaying their disappointment at the rest of a meeting with DFO personnel on March 15, 2021 regarding the proposed 2021 commercial herring opening.

Working together as part of a Coast Tsimshian partnership they have issued a joint letter to outline their concerns over the status of the herring stocks and how they believe the Herring Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (“IFMP”) was seriously flawed and ignored the fundamental obligations of DFO. 

The Coast Tsimshian position is that the herring IFMP and the proposed ope toning violate the principles of conservation and s.35.1 fisheries as the priority. Our communities do not consent to any commercial opening in our territories, and we categorically challenge DFO justification. 

The strained herring population does not support commercial removals as current stocks cannot support Coast Tsimshian food requirements, and low stocks are also impacting many other species highly dependent on herring. 

The challenge to meet herring related food requirements and manage the impact to other species has been on-going for over a decade, and Coast Tsimshian food security concerns are dramatically escalating. 

In their statement issued Monday afternoon, the Coast Tsimshian outline their concerns with the current evaluation process for the Prince Rupert District and how the information related to it is assembled.

The DFO Herring Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE) is in the process of developing trustworthy and acceptable science, that all parties can accept, as the current mortality model used coastwide in 2021 is not ecologically sensitive to the conditions in PRD. 

DFO decision-makers are responsible for accurately interpreting the data and science and, at the very least, each region in BC should be independently evaluated to select the most appropriate model – it is critical for DFO to start carefully and diligently assessing and considering the limitations and assumptions used in existing data and resource models.

Coast Tsimshian were aware the decision to utilize the Density Dependent mortality model over the other mortality models was applied coastwide, and this appeared to based on ease of management.

Officials from both Lax Kw’alaams and Metlakatla  also note that they have very serious concerns with the credibility and reliability of the existing data and science, and assert that the most ecologically conservative models must be used for decision-making in the Prince Rupert District in 2021 to protect herring and dependent species from serious harm. 

Towards those concerns officials from both Indigenous communities have called for the herring fishery to remain closed, that to allow for the stocks to recover and improve First Nations food security.

Coast Tsimshian call on DFO to keep the commercial herring fishery closed. This decision will allow herring populations to recover and increase dramatically, benefit multiple marine populations, improve First Nations’ food security, and in the long-term increase confidence for multiple commercial and recreational fisheries. 

Our communities are committed to open and transparent communication with DFO, and we see the reciprocal sentiment as a fundamental step in the reconciliation process, especially with regard to invaluable local herring populations and abundance. Coast Tsimshian call for immediate collaboration with DFO to announce a necessary commercial herring fishery closure.

You can review their full statement towards the fishery from the Metlakatla First Nation website.

In February we took note of the limited fishery opportunities that had been outlined by DFO for the 2021 Herring season, that as they released their Integrated Fisheries management plan which had allocated a  level of five percent of 910 tonne for the Prince Rupert District..

More notes on the North Coast fishery can be explored here.

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