My name is Jonn Matsen and I am the coordinator of the Howe Sound Herring Recovery project which has had great success in bringing back the herring run at the head of Howe Sound as evidenced by the hundreds of dolphins and increased bird life seen there recently. By wrapping hundreds of creosote pilings under the Squamish Terminals docks we have provided a safe and effective artificial spawning ground for these herring. Over the past 5 years billions of herring eggs have hatched out successfully and we guesstimate that the run is about 600 tons. This is a good start but still not near the 2000 tons of the 1960’s before commercial overfishing and industrial damage of their spawning grounds destroyed that run.
We’ve passed our insights onto the Pender Harbour Rotary Club and they’ve had some initial success this year bringing back their long lost herring run. We’ve identified weak runs in False Creek and Burrard Inlet and have partnered with the Northshore Wetlands Partnership to monitor and enhance these runs starting next February. False Creek had a major spawn in 2009 on the Olympic Village Greenshore development and should be returning enmasse to spawn in late March, 2012. Other once strong but now weak Georgia Strait herring runs are Powell River, Sechelt Inlet, Saltspring Island and Quadra Island.
I’m writing to inform you that all of these weak or recently returning runs are in serious jeopardy of being exterminated this year. Their enemy? You might have guessed it-the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. They regulate Georgia Strait herring as one biomass and in their minds herring stocks in Georgia Strait are in great shape. Last year they allowed a 238 ton food fishery. This year the commercial fishing industry asked for an increase. Likely they wanted an increase to 600 tons of herring but asked for 6000 tons, likely expecting that to be reduced to 600 tons. Unfortunately the Fisheries regulators bit hook, line and sinker and Okayed a 6000 ton food herring. This is not 6000 herring, nor is this 6000 pounds of herring; they’ve Okayed 6000 TONS of “surplus” herring to be taken out of Georgia Strait.
Are 6000 tons of “surplus” herring swimming aimlessly around in Georgia Strait? Hundreds of tons of these herring have now been scooped up and sold on the docks for 20 cents each. The Howe Sound herring run we’ve been struggling to bring back for 5 years spawns mainly in March. That means those fish are now swimming around in Georgia Strait ripening. Or were they the first 600 tons to be dumped onto the dock? Or were those first fish caught the False Creek run, or Powell River, or Pender Harbour, or Burrard Inlet? Nobody knows.
This herring assassination should be stopped immediately until it can be verified that weak and struggling runs have moved out of Georgia Strait into their spawning areas so that they won’t be devastated by this wide open fishery. Further information can be obtained from herring researcher Briony Penn cell-250-361-6328.
Yours truly, Jonn Matsen, Howe Sound Herring Recovery Coordinator Home-
N.B. This has been sent to all the Vancouver media of which so far only the Squamish Chief and the Province have taken steps to use it in an article. Most of the media says they’re swamped with shootings and Christmas stories. If more people send in their concerns about the same topic from their own point of view they might get more involved. CBC, Global, CTV and the Vancouver Sun could use the most persuasion. Please send this on to others in your email group.
Photo courtesy of Alaska Fish and Game
Please mark Sunday May 26th on your calendars now. More updates can be obtained here or through the Art Council website: Link to Lions Bay Art Council website