The Herring population is the Pacific Ocean off the BC coast are being devastated and at great risk. Canada’s West Coast Pacific Herring Population have dwindled by 40 per cent. What is causing this? The Strait of Georgia is the last remaining section of the B.C. coastline with enough herring to support commercial fishing. Over fishing of the Herring populations are raking havoc in our oceans.
There has been illegal dumping by fisherman of Herring by fishers who have over extended their catch.
Rebecca Benjamin-Carey, a campaigner with Conservancy Hornby Island, received an anonymous tip on March 18 that a commercial fishing vessel dumped its haul of herring into the bay, which is just south of Denman Island.
The following day, Benajmin-Carey swam down to the ocean floor, and, to her dismay, found an estimated 45,000 dead herring.
Thousands of dead herring have been found scattered across the ocean floor
It’s shocking, really, that this could happen,” she said. “Is this the first time it’s happened, or does this happen all the time?”
Benjamin-Carey recorded her findings and posted the video online. While the images show countless dead fish, she says the loss is even greater than what’s shown.
“These herring would have spawned probably eight more times. Each time, they lay about 20,000 eggs. So, that’s what we’re looking at here.”
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada says it’s aware of the alleged fish dumping.
Herring catch quota in B.C.’s Georgia Strait will ensure health of species
Some environmental and Indigenous groups have called for stricter limits on the fishery, saying that a potential herring population collapse would have a dramatic impact on the ecosystem, particularly chinook salmon and southern resident killer whales. With such a dramatic decline in the Herring populations the entire eco-system of the BC Coast is at risk.
Fortunately the Governments of BC are taking notice. They are doing studies on the Herring populations and it’s role in sustaining the eco-systems.
The federal department says it acknowledges the vital role herring play in the environment of coastal B.C. and the harvest rates ensure the majority of mature fish and younger herring remain to support the overall health of the species.
It says the commercial fishery on the Central Coast and Prince Rupert District this year will be set at five per cent of estimated harvest rates, while fisheries on the west coast of Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii will remain closed to allow stocks to rebuild.
First Nations food, social and ceremonial herring fisheries are permitted in the five areas.
The department adds that its plan for the season includes scientific analysis and management measures and involved a 30-day public consultation period.
“The conservation of stocks is really job one for us. That is our top priority,” said Neil Davis, resource management director, at the news conference.
“We’re also very cognizant that herring play a very important role in the ecosystem and are a food source for a number of other species, whether that be other fish like Pacific salmon or marine mammals.”
edited by Zoomer