Marine Conservation


Please watch our video, Pacific Herring: Small Fish – Big Problem to find out why, and sign our petition “Say NO to the Pacific Herring Roe Fishery”

Several Members of Parliament in Ottawa and Members of the Legislative Assembly in Victoria are also concerned. We need your support to help them put an end to this destructive fishery.

See the key points, and politicians to write to, below, followed by our herring Roe Fishery Fact Sheet, and please write, email and/or phone these politicians to show your support for the closure (Note: Mail may be sent postage-free to any Member of Parliament.)


Only the Federal and Provincial Governments can do this. Therefore, it is essential that we let our politicians know how we feel about this potential ecological disaster. The most effective communication with politicians is by personal letter or email.

Points to make:

  • All the seals, sea lions, birds, whales, fish and other sea life that rely on the herring spawn each March in the Salish Sea and specifically around Hornby and Denman islands
  • Orcas rely on chinook salmon for most of their food, and likewise chinook rely on herring for most of their food
  • Therefore, protect herring and we will be helping the resident orcas
  • Salmon and whales are a critical part of our sports fishing and nature viewing industries
  • These industries contribute jobs and economic wealth for BC residents in wages, and for governments in taxes
  • The herring roe fishery contributes very little benefit in the way of local jobs, economic benefit for communities or taxes
  • In the face of global warming and all the other threats to our way of life this is an action that is very simple for our government to do
  • Therefore, please close forever or place a moratorium on this senseless fishery

Please use the points above to write your letter or email to:

MP Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
House of Commons, Ottawa, Ont. K1A 0A6 (604) 775-6333

MP Catherine McKenna, Minister of the Environment
House of Commons, Ottawa, Ont. K1A 0A6 (613) 946-8682

MP Gord Johns
Parliamentary Office, 1209 E. Island Highway, Suite 12,Parksville BC, V9P 1R5
(250) 947-2140

Scott Fraser, MLA, Mid Island-Pacific Rim
3945 Johnston Rd, Port Alberni, BC V9Y 5N4 (250) 720 4515

Lana Popham, MLA, Minister of Agriculture
260 – 4243 Glanford Avenue, Victoria, BC   V8Z 4B9 (250) 387-1023

MP Fin Donnelly, NDP Critic for Fisheries, Oceans and Coast Guard
House of Commons, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A6 (613) 947-4455

George Heyman, MLA, BC Minister of the Environment
Room 112, Parliament Buildings, Victoria, BC  V8V 1X4 (250) 387-1187

For more information contact:
Cath Gray, Conservancy Hornby Island Administrator,

Ecological facts

1. Pacific herring is a vital species for the survival of so many fish, sea mammals and birds. 38% of the herring in the Salish Sea come from Hornby and Denman waters (Dr. Doug Hay, herring expert).
2. “The area around Hornby and Denman is the most reliable spawning place in BC and needs to be protected and treated like a bank savings account to ensure against collapse and future uncertainty for herring (and everything that depends on them) throughout the entire Salish Sea.” – Dr Andrew Trites, Director, Marine Mammal Research Unit, UBC Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries
3. Every year, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) sets the kill quota at 20% of the herring biomass. Last year this was approximately 200 million fish.
4. Past DFO practises have resulted in the closures of 4 of the 6 major spawning areas on the BC coast due to overfishing. This great loss of total herring biomass and the slow recovery of other herring stocks means we should conserve the remaining Salish Sea stock.
5. Scientists at UBC and elsewhere have criticised many of the practises by DFO that have resulted in these closures. DFO scientists themselves have stated that “We just don’t know” when probed about herring life cycles and their importance for other sea species. “Don’t know” to us and many scientists means “don’t fish”.
6. Herring are sensitive to ocean warming, especially at early life stages. We must take a more precautionary approach for their management.
7. DFO states that herring are managed under the principles of Ecosystem Based Management using Precautionary Principles and Risk Aversion. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program evaluates the ecological sustainability of wild-caught seafood commonly found in the North American marketplace. They reported in 2016: “Currently, [DFO] management of the herring fisheries does not account for ecosystem considerations when determining abundance [or] allowable catch. As herring is an important source of food for a variety of species, the lack of ecosystem considerations …. in the fisheries’ overall management warrants a score of ’high’ concern. ”
8. Endangered resident orcas rely on chinook salmon for most of their food, and likewise chinook rely on herring,

Economic Factors: Herring value to the BC economy
1. Value of herring roe down to $300 to $700 per ton from $5000 per ton 25 years ago,
2. Few jobs either on the seine and gillnet boats or in processing,
3. Seines did not get their quota this year because of smaller fish and over supply in freezers unsold from last year,
4. Herring is prime food source for the salmon, halibut, seabirds, Killer whales and other species that are all important for the billion dollar recreation fisheries, whale watching and the “Super Natural British Columbia” tourism industry.
5. The herring industry itself recognizes the low value of roe herring for the commercial fishing industry and has stated that the roe fishery, “keeps the plants working for another couple of weeks in a down time”.
6. There is little profit in the herring roe fishery and few jobs or taxes for the province.
7. The wholesale value of the herring fishery was $309 million in 1995 (adjusted for inflation), vs $58 million in 2017 for almost the same tonnage of fish caught. (From BC Ministry of Agriculture stats)
8. The Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force estimates that the direct global commercial catch of forage fish translates into $5.6 billion dollars. In contrast, left in the ocean the forage fish would provide a supportive value of $11.3 billion to the commercial catch of predator species like salmon.

What we are asking:
1. We are asking for our politicians’ support in closing down the herring roe fishery, or at least closing the seine roe fishery in the Strait of Georgia, especially around Hornby and Denman Islands.
2. We believe it may be possible to have a small, sustainable gill net herring fishery that concentrates on food fish for humans and on a high value roe fishery, along with the sustainable roe on kelp/branch First Nations fishery.
3. We believe this is an easy ask as there are so few jobs and economic benefits from the herring roe fishery. Would Jimmy Pattison (who owns most of the seine boats) even notice?
We have the support of our federal MP, Gord Johns and local MLA Scott Fraser. .

WEB HerringFest 2018 final posterSAVE THE DATE! HerringFest 2019 will be held March 7-10, 2019. The theme this year is seabirds. 

Our second annual HerringFest held March 7-10, 2018, was a great success thanks to a fabulous team of volunteers, engaging speakers and generous donors.
Check out Anthony Gregson’s article, “Serious Fun at the HerringFest“, published by the Islands Grapevine.

“The two presentations on killer whales and sea lions I saw were models for teaching and learning: informative, funny, lucid, well-paced, and fun. The atmospherics at the hall was friendly and engaged, with a fine mix of new and familiar faces.” – Keith Harrison

“It was a terrific festival and you deserve big congratulations.  It was a great pleasure for me to be included and for me to be there”. – Bristol Foster

“That was a terrific Herring Festival! I truly believe that CHI is … making a difference in raising the awareness of the public about herring and the ecosystem they support. I thought all three featured speakers were absolutely terrific…” – Don Peterson

About the Hornby Island Marine Conservation Initiative

Goal and Purpose
The goal of this project is to protect and conserve marine values around Hornby Island. The purpose is to identify, collect data and map the marine ecological values around the Island, educate the public on Hornby and elsewhere on the importance of these values and create a strategy and consensus for marine conservation. We are reaching out to work with other organizations with the ultimate goal of creating a Hornby Island Marine Conservation Plan with the legal authority to implement the Plan.

Marine Values and Information Identification
Identifying the values and mapping them is the foundation of this project. A first draft of marine values that we propose need protection or identification are as follows:
1) Herring
2) Salmon
3) Ground fish (ling cod, rock fish, etc.)
4) Shellfish (Clams, oysters, crabs, scallop, abalone, geoducks)
5) Forage fish
6) Eel grass and kelp beds
7) First Nations traditional territories and cultural sites, e.g., shell middens, fish weir, petroglyphs, etc.,
8) Marine mammals (seals, sea lions, whales, otters)
9) Birds (ducks, eagles, loons, migratory birds, etc.) including nesting sites
10) Existing Aquaculture tenures
11) Existing zoning
12) Recreational use sites: e.g., Anchorages, beaches, viewscapes, etc.,

Mapping and Data Preparation
We are in the process of preparing the maps and data bases for the information about marine values around Hornby Island. The draft maps and database will be in an accessible form to inform the community and gather input. Maps and data are the foundation of a marine planning process.

Community Awareness and Involvement
It is essential that the people of Hornby Island, both full time and part time residents are part of the Marine Planning initiative process. The Hornby Island Community Fund has granted us 500 dollars to host an open house meeting/workshop at the Community Hall in fall 2016. At this open house, the community will sit down to decide what the layers of marine values that need conservation are. We provide a picture of each of these values through maps, power point, pictures, and data, and identify what has high value to the committee and the community.

Identifying and Implementing the Plan
First we will identify:
1) The final management objectives and the relevant authorities
2) Who has legal authority to implement and enforce marine conservation policies
3) What marine conservation already exists in the area and who has what authority for the policy development in this project at different levels of government
Following this we will:
1) Present Conservation Plan to the Community
2) Receive Community Input and Finalize the Plan
3) Implement and Monitor the Plan.


We are currently seeking funding from the following sources:
1. CHI and Hornby Community Members
2. Fundraising events on Hornby
3. Foundations
4. Governments, local, federal and provincial.

The estimated timeline for this project is 5 years.