Pacific herring & fisheries management in Canada: a new era or history repeated?

Letter by Raincoast scientists published in Ocean & Coastal Management

Herring - photo by Caroline Fox

Reporting in the March issue of the scientific journal Ocean & Coastal Management, Raincoast scientists look back on recent (and controversial) ‘roe herring’ commercial fisheries.

Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii), a key forage fish and foundation species in many coastal ecosystems, is of profound importance to Indigenous peoples and once supported highly lucrative commercial fisheries on Canada’s Pacific coast and beyond. In 2014 and 2015, the Fisheries Minister opened commercial ‘roe herring’ fisheries on all five major stocks, including three that had been subject to long-standing closures due to low adult herring abundances.

For the 2014 season, the decision to open the three areas was an example of a Fisheries Minister wielding her discretionary powers against the science-based recommendations of her own department, which recommended closure. Further, the Fisheries Minister’s decisions in both years were made over the explicit objections of multiple First Nations.

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Raincoast scientists Dr. Caroline Fox, Dr. Aerin Jacob, Dr. Chris Darimont and Dr. Paul Paquet.
Ocean & Coastal Management, Volume 125, June 2016, Pages 47–48.