Tag Archives: Pacific Herring

Sea Shepherd throwing around a (red) herring

 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.Insert 1











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…



Now we’re illegally selling Pacific herring for profit!

You can bet on sportfishing blogs to throw out crazy accusations. Don’t get us wrong – we love sportfishers – and many salmon farmers are avid sportfishers. But we’re not a fan of the kind of sportfisher who just stays at home posting crap on discussion boards.

Case in point: Grant Eriksen and his friends at SportfishingBC have convinced themselves that salmon farms are illegally harvesting Pacific herring and selling them to processing plants. Pure BS. They say that the harvesting of herring is threatening the herring populations.

Grant’s letter spawned this beautify of an accusation from a blogger called “Whole in the Water”: “So what do we have here; (1) herring and other small wild fish being mixed up with feedlot salmon and potentially getting diseased (see articles about recently found diseased herring), (2) wild fish (in this case herring) being illegally harvested and then illegally sold by salmon feedlots to help sustain their economically and environmentally unsustainable industry!”

Grant and his discussion board allies may now regret even bringing this topic up, because as it turns out they just need to look into the mirror to find the culprit who is killing Pacific herring for profit.

One of our PAA members called a fish processing plant to find out more about the Pacific herring fishery. Here’s the facts;

Pacific herring fishing licenses in British Columbia allow for the capture and processing of roughly 500 tonnes each year for – here comes the kicker – sport fishing bait. The herring are caught in late fall/winter and held in net-pens (that look a lot like a salmon farm to the uneducated) over the winter and harvested in early spring to be sold to:  fishing resorts, fisherman direct, tackle and bait shops. A small portion is also sold to zoos and aquariums for animal food. This is a legal fishery and all product must be validated to the source.

Salmon farmers do not harvest or sell Pacific herring. Salmon farmers separate any herring (or other fish) from the net-pens that may have lived alongside farm-raised salmon during harvest (the fact that herring live alongside farmed salmon for 20 months also blows the “disease” myth out of the water). The herring are released at harvest time to the waters outside the net-pen. All “incidental catch” is recorded, audited and reported publicly on the Fisheries and Oceans Canada website. (Note: no other fishery publicly states their incidental catch).

Dear Grant Eriksen and friends: feel free to contact us next time, and before you write an attack letter accusing salmon farmers of illegal activity, which only turns out to be a legal activity that supports BC sportfishing.