Roe herring fishery reopening leads to complaints from Tla’amin Nation
Friday, March 15, 2019, 01:30 (GMT + 9)
Despite an intense public campaign to shut it down, the roe herring fishery is opening this month off Vancouver Island.
Among those opposing the practice is the native people Tla’amin Nation, who claim fishing rights and urge and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to stay out of the inside waters, which are within Area 15 from about Black Point south of Powell River, to just beyond Lund and inside Hernando, Savary, Harwood and Texada islands, Coast Reporter informed.
According to DFO, stocks elsewhere in the strait have remained highly productive and have supported a commercial fishery for a prolonged period of time.
Currently, the Department surveys indicate near historic highs for the total aggregate stock in the strait, according to an email from regional herring officer Victoria Postlethwaite.
►Pulling in hemlock branches after herring specimens have deposited eggs. Branches and kelp are set in spawning areas and collected later. The commercial version of this is known as "pound" fishery - as the kelp is impounded.(Photo: adfg.alaska.gov)
Despite there being abundant spawning habitat throughout the strait and stocks being at a very high level, the distribution of spawn has shifted and concentrated northward, with approximately 90 per cent of spawn occurring between Nanaimo and Comox. The once substantial schools of herring south of Nanaimo have not been observed in recent years.
Postlethwaite stated that the department is working with First Nations, including Tla’amin.
DFO is keeping the commercial roe fishery out of waters along the Sunshine Coast, including Tla’amin territory, where low spawn survey information and local observation levels in recent years confirm an absence of spawning herring beginning in the mid-1990s.
Meanwhile, from Tla’amin Nation, they said that the fishery had been devastated since about 1985.
Map of Sliammon tribal territory.(click on the photo to enlarge it)
Its members do not want to be in the fishery commercially, but recognize the crucial role herring plays in the marine ecosystem as the main food source for chinook salmon.
According to Postlethwaite, DFO continues to work with first nations and stakeholders to develop additional objectives, including ecosystem consideration.
However, the nation members complain that they are really tired of having the same conversation and want to see some kind of enhancement effort that can help repopulate the herring fishery.