Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The threat to the herring and the dolphins



John Matsen, who is the voice of the Howe Sound Herring Recovery project writes to all of us in the Sound about the threat to the thriving herring stock in our inlet:

I’m writing to inform you that all of these weak or recently returning runs are in serious jeopardy of being exterminated this year. Their enemy? You might have guessed it-the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. They regulate Georgia Strait herring as one biomass and in their minds herring stocks in Georgia Strait are in great shape. Last year they allowed a 238 ton food fishery. This year the commercial fishing industry asked for an increase. Likely they wanted an increase to 600 tons of herring but asked for 6000 tons, likely expecting that to be reduced to 600 tons. Unfortunately the Fisheries regulators bit hook, line and sinker and Okayed a 6000 ton food herring. This is not 6000 herring, nor is this 6000 pounds of herring; they’ve Okayed 6000 TONS of “surplus” herring to be taken out of Georgia Strait. 
Are 6000 tons of “surplus” herring swimming aimlessly around in Georgia Strait? Hundreds of tons of these herring have now been scooped up and sold on the docks for 20 cents each. The Howe Sound herring run we’ve been struggling to bring back for 5 years spawns mainly in March. That means those fish are now swimming around in Georgia Strait ripening. Or were they the first 600 tons to be dumped onto the dock? Or were those first fish caught the False Creek run, or Powell River, or Pender Harbour, or Burrard Inlet? Nobody knows.
The work of the recovery project has  been immense and has resulted in something like 250 tons of herring returning to Howe Sound over the past few years.  This has been followed by the pods of dolphins who have been gracing our inlet with their presence.

All of this is in danger of being wiped out by the commercial fishery, who wiped the herring out in the first place and who have done nothing to contribute to the restoration of the herring in Howe Sound.  If you care, please follow the link above and send your thoughts to John and DFO.  The Georgia Strait and Howe Sound needs more protection of these animals and ecosystems, not more economic exploitation for a few bucks.