Emotions were high in 2015 when Heiltsuk representatives confronted commercial fishers and occupied DFO offices over the herring fishery (Pacific Wild photo)

DFO shuts down commercial herring fishery on Central Coast; cites reconciliation

The Heiltsuk First Nation and DFO officials were unable to come to a “shared understanding”

After decades of bitter battles on the Central Coast, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has agreed to shut down the commercial herring fishery in the area.

The Heiltsuk First Nation and DFO officials were unable to come to a “shared understanding” about the health of the local herring stock, with traditional knowledge and reconciliation given equal weight.

Co-management of the fishery must take into account the “Heiltsuk’s traditional knowledge of the ecosystem,” according to the announcement.

“It’s the first time (DFO) has considered Heiltsuk traditional knowledge,” said Kelly Brown, director of the Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Department.. “This is a really big deal for us.” Brown said herring biomass has “flat-lined” on the Central Coast.

It is also the first time a fishery closure based on principles of reconciliation has been enacted.

Both the Heiltsuk and the Kitasoo/Xaixais First Nations have been vehemently opposed to the opening of the commercial fishery for several years, with members of the Heiltsuk Nation occupying the DFO’s Central Coast office for four days in 2015.

Commercial herring fisheries have been shut down for years at a time since the 1970s due to low abundance.

Herring roe is a traditional food for First Nations, and the Heiltsuk will be allowed a limited spawn fishery for food, ceremonial and commercial purposes as part of the agreement.

DFO has allocated “600 short tons for First Nations food, social and ceremonial purposes and 1,265 short tons for commercial spawn-on-kelp,” according to a department spokesperson.

“This represents a very precautionary approach for the coming season, consistent with sound environmental management practices, that will support continued rebuilding of central coast herring stocks.”

Brown said this is the first time the DFO has permitted a commercial spawn First Nation fishery without also permitting a licensed commercial roe fishery.

“We’ve been concerned with the decline in several of the traditional spawning areas that have been depleted to no spawn at all,” he said. “In the old days, they used to spawn right in front of our village, but now it’s really spotty and it’s not enough to depend on for (food).”

Just Posted

Tweedsmuir Park wildfires grow to encompass more than 200,000 hectares

Four fires now managed under one as Tweedsmuir Complex, evacation orders and alerts still in place

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

B.C. declares state of emergency as more than 560 wildfires rage

This is only the fourth state of emergency ever issued during a fire season

UPDATE: 5 injured in plane crash following Abbotsford International Airshow

One in critical condition in incident involving vintage plane

Social media, digital photography allow millennials to flock to birdwatching

More young people are flocking to birdwatching than ever, aided by social media, digital photography

Former B.C. premier Christy Clark criticizes feds for buying pipeline

The $4.5 billion purchase of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline second worst decision, she said

‘Takes more courage to fail’: B.C. ultra-marathon swimmer reflects on cancelled try at record

Susan Simmons halted her swim from Victoria to Port Angeles and back because of hypothermia

Animals moved from B.C. Interior shelters to make way for pets displaced by wildfires

The Maple Ridge SPCA houses animals to make space for pets evacuated from B.C.’s burning interior.

$21.5 million medical pot plant to be built in B.C.

The facility is to be built in Princeton

Spokane man enlists 500,000+ box fans to blow wildfire smoke back to B.C.

Spokane man Caleb Moon says he’s had enough with smoky skies from B.C.’s forest fires blanketing his city

Feds agree to look at easing jury secrecy as part of review

At issue is a law that forbids jurors from talking about closed-door deliberations

Forest fuel work needed to slow wildfires, B.C. premier says

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan joins John Horgan for tour

Liberals unveil poverty plan with lofty goals, but no new spending

Government’s goal is to lift 2.1 million people out of poverty by 2030

Most Read