Herring fishery begins as calls for a moratorium continue

Herring fishery begins as calls for a moratorium continue
WatchThe herring fishing industry says it's a well-managed stock but conservationists say it could end up closed like others on the coast

Sunshine and calm seas greeted fishers on the first full day of the 2021 herring fishery between Nanaimo and Comox.

“The winds have come down a little bit, the temperatures are a little bit better, couldn’t be better, couldn’t be a better job to have on a day like this,” said Lynette Kershaw whose family has been fishing herring for years.

Seiners got the go-ahead Tuesday at 6 p.m. and gillnetters were allowed to drop their nets at 1 pm Wednesday.

“They can’t put their nets in the water until exactly one so they’ll be getting their boats into position hopefully putting it onto fish and then right at 1 o’clock the nets will go out,” added Kershaw.

However, conservationists oppose the fishery, pointing to four others on the west coast that have been shut down because of overfishing.

Grant Scott of Conservancy Hornby Island is among those who are continuing to call for a moratorium on the fishery to allow the stocks to rebound.

“This year the quota is set at 16,000 tons and this is the last one from Alaska to Washington State and there are scientists and people like David Suzuki who are saying this should not go on,” said Scott.

But Kershaw says there are plenty of fish and the stock is well managed by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

“People think if they don’t see herring come back in exactly the same spot year to year then they must have been wiped out,” said Kershaw. “That is not the case. It’s one of the most abundant stocks, it’s very well managed with DFO and it’s a quota fishery so we can only take so much.”

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Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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