Fishing boats mar beauty of herring run

In late February/early March, residents of Vancouver Island can go down to the Salish Sea to witness an amazing display of nature, the herring run. The female herring release their eggs, the males their semen into the sea. Various species dependent on the sea for nourishment also arrive. But beware, as the herring approach their spawning grounds unfathomable danger lurks in the waters beyond, in the form of large metal containers.

I watched as a lone heron standing erect on a stone stared down the human armada. However, with the guttural sound from the armada, the stench of fuel in the air, the human assault began relentlessly for 24 hours, day after day. Yes it’s exciting to see the waters filled with every kind of vessel imaginable and yes there are so called “quotas,” but there are consequences to our actions.

Indigenous peoples had a very different approach to the herring run. I’ll leave it to them to relate how they were able to live in a sustainable way along the coastal waters prior to the invasion of the Europeans.

If humans lived sustainably, the Salish Sea would be once again alive with an abundance of whales, sea lions, otters, other species and the skies filled with every kind of bird imaginable. Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands would better be served with providing tourists from around the world an opportunity to glimpse into the wonders of nature rather than its destruction. However, we are witnessing our part of the world becoming ever more unrecognizable with each passing year; as humans systematically wipe out life not only in the sea but in the air and land too.

Paul Connolly


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