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Heiltsuk and DFO reach herring management plan

A BC First Nation has reached a breakthrough with the DFO over management of the 2016 Central Coast Herring Fishery.Herring - Photo by Ian McAllister - Pacific Wild

The Heiltsuk Tribal Council says the jointly developed plan contains four major improvements and provides for a new working relationship with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

The Heiltsuk Nation news release says the key improvements include:

1. Improved abundance forecasts. Following the recommendation of Heiltsuk scientific advisors, DFO is returning to their historical assessment model for 2016, which is believed to provide more accurate predictions.
2. Lower harvest rate. The harvest rate has lowered from 10% to 7% to allow continued recovery time for stocks.
3. Important sac roe fishery closures. Designated areas including Spiller Channel, one of the most culturally and ecologically important spawning grounds in the region, will be closed to the sac roe fishery to rebuild localized stocks while providing for Heiltsuk FSC and SOK fishing opportunities.
4. Heiltsuk observer on DFO boats. Recognizing the Nation’s stewardship rights and responsibilities, the DFO will have a Heiltsuk observer onboard the DFO vessel at all times during the herring fishery.

It’s a much different situation than 2015, when federal management of herring stocks resulted in the peaceful occupation of DFO offices by Heiltsuk members last March.Sac on roe fishery - Photo by Ian McAllister - Pacific Wild
“On behalf of the Heiltsuk Tribal Council, I applaud DFO staff for successfully establishing the foundation for a nation-to-nation relationship with our people,” said Heiltsuk Chief Marilyn Slett.  “We look forward to building this relationship as we continue to uphold our responsibility as Heiltsuk to protect our lands, waters, and resources.”

Slett says the herring management plan sets the stage for future co-management of resource with the federal government.

DFO is expected to release the draft 2015-2016 Integrated Fisheries Management Plan for herring in the coming days.

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