VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — An unimaginable collapse of the entire marine system is on the line, say conservationists calling for a moratorium on pacific herring fisheries.
Fearing a collapse of pacific herring stocks, scientists, conservationists and First Nations are calling for a moratorium on kill fisheries.
Fisheries and Ocean’s Canada says Georgia Strait stocks are at a historical high and have approved a 20 per cent take of their total biomass in 2020.
Ian McAllister, who leads Pacific Wild, has a problem with the department’s math.
“The problem with that is they only started a baseline count of herring in 1951,” he says.
McAllister adds, the 1950’s numbers represent an already devastated population thanks due to industrial and fisheries activity.
“The public concern is significant,” he says, “And yet the DFO continues to manage it like there is no tomorrow and that everything is fine.”
McAllister is critical that the government is employing the same management tactics that have already lead to the disappearance of numerous herring stocks, insisting by that point, the key food source for mammals and people had already significantly diminished due to industrial activity.
“If we are losing herring, we will see a true collapse of our marine ecosystems, of our coastal economy,” he tells NEWS 1130. “It will almost be unimaginable.”
Still, that’s the baseline that allows the feds to say the stocks are at historical highs.
More than 100,000 people have signed a petition calling for a moratorium on the kill fishery.
“[We are] begging the new federal minister to look at this issue closely,” says McAllister.
He says several groups, including First Nations, have reached out to the ministry but heard nothing back.
He says the former fisheries minister Jonathan Wilkinson was not easy to work with and hopes the newly Nova Scotia based Bernadette Jordan will be more responsive.