The decision announced by Joyce Murray, the latest Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard was made as part of what the Federal government describes as a more cautious approach to Pacific herring management, based on recently intensified risks to wild salmon, for which herring is an important food source.
That cautious government approach for 2022 will see most commercial fisheries for Pacific herring closed, and limited to First Nations food, social and ceremonial fisheries.
For the Strait of Georgia, harvesting will be reduced to a 10% harvest rate, with a maximum total allowable catch of 7,850 tonnes.
“When managing our fisheries, we have to consider the local fish harvesters and the long-term health of the entire ecosystem. This is an extraordinary time, when our Pacific Coast is reeling from natural disasters, and the serious damage they have caused to the environment and our iconic Pacific salmon. Herring are vital to the health of our ecosystem, and the stocks are in a fragile state. We must do what we can to protect and regenerate this important forage species.” -- The Honourable Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
The statement issued late in the day on Thursday also noted that this decision was taken with the aim of providing sustainable fishing opportunities and increasing stock abundance, to the benefit of the entire ecosystem.
DFO adds that this approach extends the cautious approaches taken in recent years, with additional limits on harvest, and considers the decline of wild Pacific salmon, and the impacts of the recent floods and landslides on fish habitats in British Columbia.The herring closure may not be the only measure in place for the West Coast Fishery for 2022, DFO will soon release the draft Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP), which outlines the scientific projections and proposed management measures for the upcoming season.