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LETTER – DFO’s herring fishery estimates are only met on paper

Dear editor,

Regarding Mike Chouinard’s recent story on the herring fishery (Strait of Georgia herring fishery opens, as DFO forecast estimates met), the headline should read “DFO estimate met – on paper.”

Please note UBC’s Tony Pitcher’s recent DNA work published in the Royal Society Journal (https://bit.ly/3bJofys), which does prove through DNA analysis that herring do actually home to their natal beaches, so when DFO allows an area to repeatedly be hit hard during the fishery, this can wipe out a genetically distinct population of herring which call a certain area “home.”

This is a good explanation of why so many spawning areas and habitats that were over-exploited in the past have been wiped out, with no new herring returning. Places as varied as Point Grey in Vancouver to Coffin Point on Vancouver Island near Ladysmith.

The other statement in this piece that is misleading is DFO has admitted that herring may have been counted twice, specifically the 2 x 20,000 tonnes that coincidentally rose the estimate in area 14 from 56,000 tonnes to 89,000 tonnes at the time the opening was announced. Using the lower estimate would have put the biomass in the critical zone where a recovery plan needs to be implemented and no further resource extraction allowed.

According to an email I received from DFO’s resource manager for herring, Jim Meldrum (see below), even though the estimate being low would not initiate an adjustment to the quota, (the quota is determined during the assessment the summer before) it sure does look better on paper for the numbers to match the quota, from a public relations point of view.

Locky Maclean,

Hornby Island

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