According to Randy Shore’s article, “Winter fishery may put inshore herring stocks at risk: scientists,” in Wednesday’s Vancouver Sun, the Georgia Strait’s resident populations of herring are possibly over-fished, and in some cases along the Pacific coast, entirely depleted. There are two different types of herring in the Pacific Ocean: resident inshore herring populations and migratory populations. When it comes to fisheries, there is a percentage of fish permitted as a catch for each year, and a differentiation between the resident and migratory herring being caught is not made. 12% of the total amount of herring in the Georgia Strait is permitted as catch by the fishermen during the fishery regardless of which population they belong to. So what happens when there is no differentiation between the types of fish and they continue to be harvested? According to Shore’s article, the resident herring suffer in numbers as their population may not be able to recover as quickly. While further study is required, there is evidence that over-fishing is the cause of resident herring depletion in other areas, such as the inshore herring of Skidegate in Haida Gwaii. This local resident stock has never recovered from over-fishing.
First nations up and down the coast are convinced that past mismanagement of the herring fishery has resulted in the extinction of local resident stocks that used to support their ancient marine economy.
Where commercial fishing has damaged inshore herring stocks, recovery has been slow and in some cases the fish have never returned.
SeaChoice, an organization which advises consumers about making sustainable seafood choices, has taken herring off of it’s “best choice” list, and suggests that herring and their populations need to be further assessed and could be allocated to their “some concerns” list or even their “avoid” category.
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