Oceana Canada applauds Minister Murray’s decision on Pacific herring - Oceana Canada

Oceana Canada applauds Minister Murray’s decision on Pacific herring

Press Release Date: December 16, 2021

Contacts: Kathleen Munro, Pilot PMR, kathleen.munro@pilotpmr.com, 902-789-3165,
Lesley Wilmot, Oceana Canada, lwilmot@oceana.ca, 647-535-6326.

OTTAWA, December 16, 2021 — Following today’s announcement from Fisheries and Oceans Canada on the 2022 quota for Pacific herring, Oceana Canada has released the following statement from Dr. Robert Rangeley, Science Director:

“Oceana Canada is encouraged by Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Pacific herring quota decisions: maintaining closures for depleted stocks and reducing the harvest rate for the Strait of Georgia from 20 to 10 per cent, with a maximum total allowable catch of 7,850 tonnes. This reduction will provide an opportunity to protect a species that plays a critical role in the ecosystem, feeding everything from salmon to orcas. We should do the same for all forage fish, including Atlantic herring, capelin and mackerel.

This quota cuts the total allowable harvest rate in half and is in direct response to the increasing threats facing fish and their habitats in British Columbia, including from floods and landslides that occurred this year due to climate change. This decision for the future of Pacific herring follows scientific recommendations and prioritizes First Nations food, social and ceremonial fisheries. Crucially, we hope this is a positive signal of a much-needed shift happening at Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray has decided to prioritize rebuilding and taking into account the important role forage fish play in the ecosystem.

Pacific herring are a small fish that congregate in large schools in the open ocean, migrating into the coast in the spring to spawn. The iconic turquoise-blue colour taken by the water after the release of their sperm and egg is a central moment for all life connected to the Pacific coast.  Many other species rely on herring for food, including larger fish like salmon, seabirds, as well as whales like orcas and humpbacks. Pacific herring also have significant value to communities, including First Nations, who have been fishing them sustainably for thousands of years.

More action on fisheries rebuilding and the protection of forage fish is urgently needed in Canada. According to Oceana Canada’s latest Fishery Audit, less than one-third of Canada’s fisheries are healthy and the health status of a third remains uncertain, due to insufficient data.

Learn more about Oceana Canada’s campaign to rebuild ocean abundance and see the latest information on the health status of Canada’s fisheries at FisheryAudit.ca.


Oceana Canada was established as an independent charity in 2015 and is part of the largest international advocacy group dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana Canada has successfully campaigned to end the shark fin trade, make rebuilding depleted fish populations the law, improve the way fisheries are managed and protect marine habitat. We work with civil society, academics, fishers, Indigenous Peoples and the federal government to return Canada’s formerly vibrant oceans to health and abundance. By restoring Canada’s oceans, we can strengthen our communities, reap greater economic and nutritional benefits and protect our future.