Environmental Policy News

Fisheries and Oceans Canada Continues to Take Cautious Approach to Herring Fishery

Conservation is the federal government’s first priority in managing Canadian fisheries. In British Columbia, Pacific herring are an important forage species and play a critical role in supporting BC’s rich coastal ecosystem.

In order to preserve the abundance of this vital species, the management of Pacific herring will remain precautionary while allowing fishing allocations where possible.

The Honorable Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced the total allowable catch for Pacific herring and the release of the final 2022-23 Pacific herring coast-wide Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP). This year’s plan continues the precautionary approach taken in recent years. First Nations fisheries for Food, Social and Ceremonial (FSC) purposes are planned to open in all areas, while limited commercial fisheries are planned in the Central Coast, Prince Rupert District, and Strait of Georgia as follows:

Following closures during the 2021-22 season, commercial fishing opportunities are available in the Central Coast for the 2022-23 season with a maximum harvest level of 1,306 metric tonnes, representing a 7% harvest rate. This will support fisheries for spawn-on-kelp.

Following closures during the 2021-22 season, commercial fishing opportunities in the Prince Rupert District are available for the 2022-23 season with a maximum harvest level of 1,620 metric tonnes, representing a 5% harvest rate. This will support fisheries for spawn-on-kelp and roe herring.

In the Strait of Georgia, the maximum harvest for the 2022-23 season will be 6,010 metric tonnes, representing a 10% harvest rate, which is the same harvest rate as the 2021-22 season and down from 20% during the 2020-2021 season. This will support fisheries for food and bait, special use, and roe herring.

The IFMP outlines the scientific projections and proposed management measures for the upcoming herring season. This year’s plan was developed to ensure that FSC harvest is available, and also to provide sustainable fishing opportunities and increase stock abundance, to sustain the Pacific herring stock into the future and support its role in the ecosystem.


“As a key forage fish, Pacific herring play a critical role in the ocean's ecosystem. By utilizing a cautious approach, we protect this valuable species and the larger networks of fish, wildlife and harvesters that depend on them,” says the Honorable Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.

Quick facts

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) follows the Sustainable Fisheries Framework (SFF), which is a toolbox of policies for DFO and other interests to sustainably manage Canadian fisheries in order to conserve fish stocks and support prosperous fisheries.

The Fishery Decision-Making Framework Incorporating the Precautionary Approach applies to key harvested fish stocks in order to keep the removal rate moderate when the stock status is healthy, promote rebuilding when stock status is low and to ensure a low risk of serious or irreversible harm to stock.

The Draft 2022-23 IFMP was released for a 30-day public consultation period on December 20, 2022.

Through a rigorous Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE) process, DFO uses computer simulation to test the ability of different harvest options in each area to meet conservation objectives over the long term with a high probability.

New stock assessment advice is provided annually which updates the current stock status. Results from MSE and the updated stock assessment advice are used to adjust fishing plans each year.

In the central coast, Prince Rupert District, and Strait of Georgia, DFO is implementing precautionary harvest rates which meet conservation objectives for herring in these areas.

DFO will continue to consult with First Nations to ensure that fishery management decisions are accessible and accountable, reflect the most up-to-date scientific information and Indigenous knowledge, are informed by understanding of fisheries practices, and are aligned with the precautionary approach.

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