Sea Shepherd throwing around a (red) herring
The following conversation posted on the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Facebook page shows the Sea Shepherd caught in a lie. Although Sea Shepherd leader, Paul Watson, admits that “lying to everyone is OK” as long as it served his cause, we’d suggest Sea Shepherd try harder to make the lie more resilient to a simple web search.
“Herring fisheries have been closed for 31 years” (since 1986) they say. “The decline is not due to overfishing” they say.
We fact checked, and what we found probably won’t surprise you: Sea Shepherd is wrong. Dead wrong, in fact.
The last time a herring fishery occurred in the Broughton area (referred to as fishing area 12) was in 1976 – 40 years ago – and a full decade before the first farm-raised salmon was stocked into the area. But perhaps more relevant, the last consistent fishery took place in Area 12 in the 1950s: well over 30 years before the words “salmon farming” was uttered by a Canadian (see Figure 1).
According to life-long fishermen, this area and others with similar attributes (depth, current, temperature, and phytoplankton) are productive “nursery” grounds for herring, but they don’t often produce fish that are the right size for commercial catch.
Figure 1: Broughton Archipelago herring fishery (Area 12, subsection 125W). For coast map of all regions, see http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/science/species-especes/pelagic-pelagique/herring-hareng/herspawn/jstr_map-eng.html
Coast wide, B.C.’s herring fishery collapsed in the mid-1960s (see Figure 2). But there are a few known catch areas in British Columbia that still produce fish large enough to catch, consistently: Haida Gwaii, Central Coast, and Georgia Strait. In fact, the Georgia Strait had a record high catch of herring in 2016.
Figure 2: BC Herring Catch and Estimated Spawners (1900-2017). Read more at http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/science/species-especes/pelagic-pelagique/herring-hareng-eng.html
So, Sea Shepherd is lying about of the Pacific Herring fishery in British Columbia.
But are they right when they say “Alaska doesn’t farm salmon”? We’ll leave you with this photo of one salmon aquaculture facility in Alaska:
OK, just one more photo then we’re done…