Common Sense Canadian

DFO clings to bad science, refuses to close herring fishery in Area 7

PostedMarch 31, 2015 by in BC

Despite harsh criticism from scientists and First Nations of DFO’s flawed forecasting methods for the health of herring stocks, the department’s Director General, Pacific Region Sue Farlinger acknowledged today that she was unable to commit to the closure of a gillnet fishery in Area 7.

Farlinger flew to Bella Bella Monday afternoon for emergency meetings with Heiltsuk leaders after they occupied the central coast fisheries office in opposition to a planned gillnet fishery in their territory.

“It is my intention to avoid at all costs a fishery in Area 7,” Farlinger told a gathering of upset Heiltsuk First Nations outside the occupied fisheries office. Yet, she added:

I’m not in a position to unilaterally say, ‘No fishery will happen in Area 7.

“That’s not enough for us,” responded Kelly Brown, the nation’s resource stewardship director. “We worked all night with people to get the proper stock assessment done, which shows that there is not enough herring here to sustain a commercial fishery.”

“If DFO doesn’t have the authority to shut down Area 7,” declared Chief Councillor Marilyn Slett. “And we will exercise our authority.”

The basis for DFO’s assurances that a commercial herring fishery is sustainable this year has been undermined by a retired department herring scientist, Dr. Ron Tansichuk, who has noted, “The forecasting methodology that DFO uses now for central coast herring is actually quite flawed. DFO’s forecasts are likely twice as much as they should be.”

A gillnet fishery was planned to follow closely on the heels of an unannounced herring seine fishery a little over a week ago which angered Heiltsuk members – but a lack of fishable stocks has held back the opening thus far. Yet Brown cautioned DFO again that if one does proceed, “we’ve got boats out on the [herring] grounds and we’re prepared to stop them at all costs.”


About the Author

Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.


    Barbara Kuhl

    Thank you for your coverage, Damien. Important work.


    If DFO is useing the same science department for herring that they do for fishfarm science i’d say herring along with everything else that is wild and swims on this coast is in serious trouble

    Alexandra Morton

    I think it is important to ask why DFO is pushing so hard for these fisheries. Are the bodies of these fish being rendered into farmed salmon feed after the eggs are removed from the females? West Coast Reduction Ltd, lists the BC Salmon Farmers as an “Industry Association” In my experience, what the salmon farming industry wants, they get and they are running out of fish to grind into feed.

    Jon mainers

    Was at the protest at Burrard & W. Pender…..loved it…..
    1st Nations Heiltsuk passionate and committed……keep up the good work……block the coast…..maintain your rights…..

    Don F.

    Very sad. Another wedge driven between the Harper government and first nations people.
    What can they expect, this federal government to be the result of this?
    These young native children see their parents and grandparents fighting to maintain their way of life to be put down so Jimmy Pattison can make a few extra pennies?
    Doing this when you know you are wrong is a sure way to bring chaos to future negotiations with these proud people. Doing this insures conflict for the life of those children involved.
    Why can’t, for once, they government of Stephen Harper be intelligent?
    I for one am thoroughly discussed by such a display of incompetence!
    It’s disgusting that in this country those with so little knowledge and wisdom, with a penchant for exaggerated science think they own power.


      “It’s disgusting that in this country those with so little knowledge and wisdom, with a penchant for exaggerated science think they own power.”

      That is the entire problem. Harper does not understand what leadership truly is.

      “Leadership is about submission to duty not elevation to power”- Gordon Tootoosis (1941-2011)

    Ron Wilton

    Harper thinks that antagonizing First Nations by sending out quislings like Farlinger to do his dirty work will get his base voters back onside and perpetuate his and their usurpation of our democracy.

    He will lose the next election because BC will not re-elect any of the existing con tea partiers because of these types of abuse.

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