Say NO to the Pacific Herring Roe Fishery

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Conservancy Hornby Island is requesting the federal government to shut down the Pacific herring roe fishery planned for March 2020, and to create a Pacific Herring Recovery Program for the Strait of Georgia. Again in 2019, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) approved the catch of approximately 200 million spawning herring in the Georgia Strait - the last viable herring roe fishery on the coast - without considering what impact this may have on all the other sea creatures who rely on this one species of forage fish.

And DFO just announced in October, 2019, that the herring population has dwindled from approximately 129,500 metric tonnes in 2016, to 85,700 tonnes in 2019, and is predicted to fall to 54,242 tonnes in 2020. This is a reduction of almost 60 percent in four years

Pacific herring is the basis for the food web that supports the salmon, killer whales and most of the other mammals, seabirds and other creatures who, with us, call this place home. 80% of the chinook salmons' diet is herring, and over 80% of the endangered southern resident killer whales' diet is chinook.

The herring fishery is worth little money and produces few jobs. 30 years ago the fishermen got as much as $5000 a ton for the fish, now it is as low as $150 and maybe $700 in a good year. What happened? Japanese taste changed. Where herring roe was once considered a delicacy it is no longer by younger Japanese. Times change and yet DFO keeps allowing this outdated fishery to carry on.

Even worse, 90% of the herring are ground up for fish farm food and pet food. Using wild fish for non-human consumption is illegal under the federal Fisheries Act. And the herring fishery is supporting the salmon farms that are killing our wild salmon. 

DFO states that management will be guided by the principles of “Ecosystem Based Management" and "Risk Aversion" and "Precautionary Principle" yet DFO management has, in the last 20 years, resulted in the closure of 4 of the 6 major herring stocks on the BC coast. How can we believe that DFO is managing this valuable public resource in the best interests of all of us and our marine ecosystem?

The last remaining major Pacific Herring spawn from Washington State to Alaska is in the northern Strait of Georgia from Nanaimo to Comox. Wouldn’t it make sense to leave this stock alone to hopefully rebuild all the herring schools on our coast and the marine life that need them for survival?

Please sign this petition now to send your concerns to the politicians who can stop this unsustainable fishery. Then write to the following people who can make this happen: 

The most effective communication with politicians is by personal letter or email. Please use the points above to write your letter (no postage needed for House of Commons addresses) and/or email to:

MP Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
House of Commons, Ottawa, Ont. K1A 0A6 (604) 775-6333
Fin Donnelly, MP, NDP Critic for Fisheries, Oceans and Coast Guard
House of Commons, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A6 (613)947-4455

MP Catherine McKenna, Minister of the Environment
House of Commons, Ottawa, Ont. K1A 0A6 (613) 946-8682

MP Gord Johns
House of Commons, Ottawa, Ont. K1A 0A6 (250) 947-2140
Scott Fraser, MLA, Mid Island-Pacific Rim
3945 Johnston Rd, Port Alberni, BC V9Y 5N4 (250) 720 4515
Lana Popham, MLA, Minister of Agriculture
260 – 4243 Glanford Avenue, Victoria, BC   V8Z 4B9 (250) 387-1023 

To find out more facts about this issue and how you can help, please visit Conservancy Hornby Island.

Photo credit: Ian McAllister: