Pacific herring stocks ‘increasingly’ rebounding on West Vancouver Island: Biologists


Wielding heavy hoses to fill his family fishing boat with ice in French Creek Saturday, 25-year-old Taylor Forbes continued a tradition that goes back four generations in his family.

“It feels like home, I suppose, and it’s always exciting. You always hope to do good and it’s going to be a good year,” said Forbes, a crewmember on the Lasqueti Sons.

But his grandfather, Billy Forbes, is going into this season with caution. Forbes says 60 years of fishing off Vancouver Island and downturns in herring and salmon have him prepared for anything.

“You just get ready and as long as you’re ready you let mother nature decide,” said Billy Forbes, captain of the Lasqueti Sons.

The annual and vital herring spawn is as sure a sign of spring as the yellow of daffodils popping up for another year. This year it was recorded early in February in Nootka Sound, and off Cape Scott, and is bringing hope for an early fishery on the East Coast of Vancouver Island.

“We’ve had some early spawns out there for some reason and they’re bigger than normal for this time of year,” said fisherman Shane Gallop, as he prepared his boat’s nets in French Creek Saturday.

According to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 2024 is looking like a very promising year for the return of Pacific herring stocks, especially on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.

“For the west coast of Vancouver Island, the biomass has been increasing steadily over the last six to eight years, and this coming year the biomass is projected to be quite a bit larger,” said Fisheries & Oceans’ Pacific herring stock assessment biologist Jaclyn Cleary.

Cleary anticipates as much as a 50 per cent increase in spawning herring on the west coast this year, where commercial fisheries will remain closed for a fourth year to let populations rebound.

“It is great to see biomass rebuilding and to hear from the Nations in the areas that are part of the monitoring as well,” said Cleary.

According to Cleary, there are no plans to reduce the herring fishery on the East Coast of Vancouver Island, as she calls it a “healthy” population that is “naturally fluctuating in numbers.” So up to 10 per cent of the spawning herring recorded in the Strait of Georgia will be able to be caught by commercial fisherman, in an opening expected within the week.

SEE ALSO: Proposed fishing restrictions causing concern for Port Renfrew residents

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!