EDITORIAL: Herring fishery upon us

Our first thoughts are about safety for all involved

It could happen here at any moment. It might be happening now. It is happening north of here.

The annual herring roe fishery is upon us, a yearly spectacle that provides jobs for fishermen and herring eggs for Asian markets.

Our first thoughts are of safety. Dozens of boats often converge in a small part of the Georgia Strait out front of Parksville Qualicum Beach in what could be described as controlled chaos. We spoke with Coast Guard crews last week and while they are trained and prepared for any eventuality, they suggested these seiners and gillnetters, their captains and crews, really know what they are doing.

Recent history has shown this fishery, despite the many vessels in such a small area, is not a time when the Coast Guard is busy every day saving lives and helping distressed vessels. It’s remarkable really (touch wood), but a testament to the skill of the captains and their crews.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has said the number of spawning herring in the Strait of Georgia is at the high end of populations since 1975. They set roe herring catch quotas of 7,600 tonnes for purse seines and 10,500 tonnes for gillnets in the Strait of Georgia. That’s about 40 million pounds of fish harvested for their eggs only.

There are some who will tell you this fishery should end. That debate is not what’s in front of mind for the fisherman who make a living in the Pacific and harvest the herring off the shores of Parksville Qualicum Beach. They have watched their costs climbs and prices per pound plummet over the years — it’s not the cash down it may have used to be, that’s for sure.

There are some things for us landlubbers and recreational boaters to keep in mind during this fishery. The arrival of the herring means so much for many species who are not human. The Brant geese, for example, rely on the herring every year, stopping in our neck of the woods to fatten up and store the energy for their migratory flight north. The least we humans can do is keep our dogs off the beach.

Recreational boaters should also keep in mind the men and women on the working boats during this fishery are trying to make a living. It’s a crucial time for them and ultimately their families. Give them the space to do their jobs. And be careful if you are heading to French Creek Seafoods where many tonnes of herring will be off-loaded. There are forklifts and big trucks constantly moving in a tight area there, right in front of the fish shop.

All that stated, we sure look forward to the wildlife spectacle that is the herring spawn. Safety to all and good fishing.

— Editorial by John Harding

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: SD69 working on how to organize schools for planned fall re-opening

Qualicum School District required to have plan to ministry by Aug. 26

Throwback: Parksville Makerspace shows off old Commodore 64 computer

Open house takes place Aug. 8, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

COVID-19: Modified beach volleyball a hit in Parksville

Organizer happy to get popular summer game going

Ballenas students help keep essential community services going

Club donates $1,000 to SOS Grateful Hearts campaign

‘We all have anxieties’: B.C.’s top doctor addresses return-to-school fears amid COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry promises school restart plan safe for B.C. kids

Maple Bay man rushed to hospital after being trapped under car

BC Ambulance and Maple Bay Fire Department attend scene on Wednesday morning

Facebook launches its new TikTok clone, Instagram Reels

Facebook has a long tradition of cloning competitive services

Dwindling B.C. bamboo supply leaves Calgary Zoo biologists worried about pandas

Zoo has been trying to send pandas back to China since May

B.C. doctors, dentists call on province for mandatory mask rule

Open letter says masks should be worn in indoor public spaces, public transportation or in crowds

B.C. Appeal Court prevents Victoria woman from using the term ‘death midwife’ in her job

Pashta MaryMoon claimed she had been providing “death-care services” for more than 40 years

B.C. fish harvesters receive long-awaited details on pandemic benefits

Applications to the $470-million federal assistance programs will open Aug. 24

Most Read