Video showing a huge dump of dead herring on the floor of Deep Bay’s harbour has renewed calls for an end to the Pacific herring fishery in the Salish Sea.
The video was shot by Conservancy Hornby Island member Rebecca Benjamin Carey on March 19. She said she received an anonymous tip that a commercial boat dumped a load of herring there when it was turned away by a packer.
“So already an unsustainable fishery and they’re just wasting fish on nothing,” said Benjamin Carey, after she recorded the scene. “We think that someone should be held accountable here.”
Fisheries and Oceans confirmed to CHEK News that it is investigating the dead herring and looking to identify which boat dumped it, and why. But those long-opposed to the Pacific herring fishery say it is further evidence of waste.
“They need to put a moratorium on the fishery to stop all of this waste and let the herring stocks rebuild,” said Benjamin Carey.
CHEK News showed the video to herring fisherman Peter Polinick in French Creek. He said there is no excuse for the dumped fish.
“I’ve never seen this in my 35 years of herring fishing,” said fisherman Peter Polinick.
According to Polinick, it doesn’t make sense, since herring are in such demand.
“This isn’t normal practice to clean out boats like this,” said Polinick. “The quota is short right now approximately 400 tonnes of fish. So it isn’t excess fish.”
The third generation fisherman urged Fisheries and Oceans and the public not to view this as a reflection of the fishing community.
“There’s over 100 herring boats gill-netting herring and if one boat does that every five years you know, it’s the odds,” he said.
“DFO has to investigate that and determine who is going to be held accountable and what’s going to happen to their license,” said Benjamin Carey.
Anglers who spoke with CHEK said without the herring fishery they wouldn’t be able to make a living. Conservationists insist it’s coming at far too great a cost.