The Heiltsuk Nation says it’s pleased that Department of Fisheries and Oceans has canceled this year’s commercial roe herring fishery on BC’s Central Coast.
DFO issued the decision Thursday, saying its staff and the Heiltsuk were unable to reach a shared understanding on the health of herring stocks. The department cited the federal government’s ongoing commitment to reconciliation as part of the decision to call off the fishery.
Chief Councillor Marilyn Slett says the nation is encouraged by the decision, noting that they have been working hard for the closure in order to let stocks to rebuild.
“With this decision, DFO has taken an encouraging concrete step to show that it is serious about reconciliation,” said Slett in a news release. “We applaud DFO’s recognition of Heiltsuk traditional knowledge and their desire to support co-management of fisheries with us. We hope this is indicative of times to come.”
The Heiltsuk says herring biomass on the Central Coast remains far below historic levels.
“Taking this action to protect herring today will yield benefits for all of us in the future when their biomass recovers. Not just for Heiltsuk and other First Nations, but also for fishers on the coast and wildlife alike,” said Heiltsuk hereditary chief and Gladstone Reconciliation Society board member Frank Brown.
Heiltsuk and DFO have been working to develop a Joint Fisheries Management Plan since August, 2017.