March heralds the annual herring spawning season, one of nature’s major phenomena.
Unfortunately, for me it is a sad time of remembering the way it used to be prior to DFO sanctioning the herring roe fishery back in 1972.
Fisheries maintains that the roe fishery does not affect the herring stocks but I beg to differ.
During my lifetime in the Valley I have observed a marked decline in fishing, some of which, I feel, is a direct result of this commercial fishery.
Shortly after it began in the early ’70s, herring, which used to be abundant in Comox Bay during the winter, disappeared and along with it the winter chinook fishery off the dock in Comox and out in Comox Bay. A common practice in the ’50s and ’60s was to go down to the dock and fish among the boats for the winter springs that were attracted to the abundant herring schools. Sadly this is no more.
Recently hitting the news is the 50 per cent decline in the seagull population over a period that mysteriously coincides with the herring roe fishery.
In addition, the resident orca population has shown a similar decline over this period.
There should be no surprise here as their diet consists solely of chinook salmon, which in turn depend on herring for 62 per cent of their diet.
The answer is simple. Over-fish the bottom of the food chain and you adversely affect all that lives above.
The specialized market for herring roe in Japan is drying up for obvious demographic reasons; the younger generation has different tastes from their parents. Yet the roe fishery continues.
In my opinion fishing these integral fish for roe and fish meal is a gross waste and is affecting each and every one of us in a negative way.
Let’s let nature use these fish in the most efficient way possible, providing the vital link between their food, plankton, and the many species depending on them farther up the chain.
We would all be better off using our fishing resources farther up the food chain where collateral damage is less likely to occur.