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LETTER - DFO decision to allow a spring herring fishery is ‘ unconscionable’

Dear Editor
A First Nation banner speaks out against the annual Baynes Sound herring fishery. Photo by Dorrie Woodward

Dear Editor

Baynes Sound and Lambert Channel hosts the only robust herring spawn remaining on the B.C. coast. The other six major herring spawning locations have been overfished, until they are either extinct or so depleted that a commercial kill fishery is not viable.

Herring are the keystone species of the Pacific food web and essential to its health. They are also an important traditional food source for First Nations. It is therefore unconscionable that DFO is again allowing a spring herring fishery of this one remaining spawning region, despite independent scientific evidence that it could threaten the marine ecosystem. It is unacceptable, when the federal government has pledged to actions of reconciliation with First Nations, that DFO is ignoring the pleas of First Nations chiefs and elders, and local communities to put a moratorium on the fishery.

Adult herring spawn for as many as seven additional years. To kill the spawners of a depleted keystone species is absurd. Further, to use much of this product for feeding fish farms and making cat food is immoral.

Our communities around Baynes Sound and Lambert Channel used to flock to the beach to celebrate the herring spawn, now go to the beach to mourn. Please make your opposition heard by lighting a candle in your window during the spawn next week so all can see, as a statement of mourning. Or better go down to the beaches near your home to light a candle at dusk to tell DFO and Jimmy Pattison, who controls the herring industry, that they are putting our ecosystem at risk by allowing this devastating fishery.

Dorrie Woodward,

Association for Denman Island Marine Stewards chair