Canadian fisheries officials, taking a long-term approach to boosting Pacific salmon stocks, have cut Pacific herring harvest rates for the Strait of Georgia to a 10% harvest rate, with a maximum total allowable catch of 7,850 tons.
Canada Fisheries, Oceans and Canadian Coast Guard Minister Joyce Murray announced the updates in the federal Pacific herring coastwide harvest plan for 2021-22, noting that herring are a forage fish, an important food source to other key species like Pacific salmon and a critical part of the Pacific coast ecosystem.
It is vital that Pacific herring are managed with an approach that supports fishing allocation where possible, and is consistent with the objectives of stock recovery and the regeneration of the species, DFO officials said. Maintaining a healthy herring stock, they said, is vital to the health of the ecosystem of coastal British Columbia, and this year’s harvest plan will continue to conserve, protect and regenerate herring stocks for the future.
The mid-December announcement came in the wake of an earlier DFO decision to reduce the allowable commercial harvest of Pacific salmon because of dramatically declining stocks of wild Pacific salmon and the impact of floods and landslides on fish habitat in British Columbia.
DFO officials also said they would release a draft Integrated Fisheries Management Plan outlining the scientific projections and proposed management measures for the upcoming season, with the goal of providing sustainable fishing opportunities and increasing stock abundance.
With the Pacific Coast reeling from natural disasters and the serious damage they have caused to Pacific salmon, “herring are vital to the health of our ecosystem, and the stocks are in a fragile state,” Murray said in a statement. “We must do what we can to protect and regenerate this important forage species.”