LETTER – Seal and sea lion cull makes more sense than shutting down herring fishery

Dear editor,

With reference to the article on the herring fishery by the Hornby Island Conservancy (Organization calls for halt to herring roe fishery, Jan. 10, 2019)

While I agree with conserving herring stocks, I take issue with their remedial proposal. Instead of putting our fisher people out of work, let’s go to the real source of the problem: the proliferation of seals and, especially, the explosive rise in the numbers of sea lions in our local waters.

Prior to the 1980s, sea lions were not seen north of Nanaimo. Now they number in the thousands.

A cull of seals and sea lions makes more sense than shutting down yet another industry.

Whether DFO is to blame for setting catch quotas too high is a moot question, but I do blame DFO for not culling the seals and sea lions.

It must be very disappointing to the many local volunteers who work so hard in the salmon hatchery, and on our local creeks and rivers to enhance salmon spawning to see seals, not only in the Puntledge estuary, but also in the rivers and creeks, taking so many salmon coming in to spawn and then, in the spring, decimating the fry and smolts as they try to reach the sea. Since the 1980s, the numbers of seals and sea lions in B.C. waters have both quadrupled. Too bad the transient orcas (which feed on seals and sea lions) have not kept pace.

Recent intrusions of orcas into Comox harbour are indicative of it being their “Happy Hunting Ground” for seals and sea lions.

Talk to the crews of the seiners. They can’t haul in their catch without sea lions invading their nets.

So please let’s not blame our herring fishers, but trim the numbers of the real predators.

Reg Garnett,

Comox

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