‘Herring Aid’ rally held in Qualicum Beach

WatchSeveral dozen citizens gathered on the Qualicum Beach waterfront Sunday in support of herring, a species they say is under threat by overfishing.

With the 2020 herring fishery set to open within days, calls on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to close it for good continued Sunday in Qualicum Beach.

“Yeah the other four fisheries on the west coast of Vancouver Island and up the coast of British Columbia have all been fished to near extinction so we want to protect the last of the spawning fish and we want to ensure that these fish get to spawn again,” said Herring Aid rally co-organizer Rich Ronyecz.

The DFO has set an allowable harvest this year of 20 per cent of which opponents say is too high after years of over-estimating returns.

“We’re completely in support of fishing, we’re in support of salmon fishing,” said co-organizer Hans Trupp. “This particular fishery doesn’t make sense. It certainly is at risk this year of collapsing a keystone species which is vital to the health of our entire ecosystem.”

Herring fishermen who attended the rally say they blame fish farms for dwindling herring numbers and sea lions that they’d like to see culled.

“You know there’s enough fish on the coast to catch and we could enhance that even more however if you’re enhancing it for these sea lions what’s it going to do? It’s just going to give the sea lions more to have and we’re just feeding the animals,” said herring fisherman David Jeffries Quinn (Popois) of the Sechelt Nation.

“I think there’s a lot of misinformation spread around and I wanted to come here for myself. This is a sustainable fishery managed and dictated by science,” said herring fisherman James Lawson.

Herringfest 2020 is expected to draw a large crowd next weekend on Hornby Island.

“It’s so important, we can see how contained this is and the damage that’s done by the commercial herring fishery so we would really like people to come out and join us and really see what’s going on,” said Liz Johnston.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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