A vital ecosystem link
Every spring, the annual herring spawn turns the coast of BC into a breathtaking milky aqua-green swirling concoction. This massive rush of nutrients is critical for wildlife during this time year attracting millions of seabirds as well as large populations of salmon, marine mammals, wolves and bears. Each female lays up to 40,000 eggs on eelgrass, kelp and other marine vegetation. Male herring can spawn up to ten times in their lives and their spawn can reach several kilometres long. Since they support such a large variety of wildlife they are known as a cornerstone or Foundation species for British Columbia’s coastal food web.
The numbers of Pacific herring have dropped severely over the past century. Overfishing led to the collapse of the herring fishery in the 1960’s and is thought to be the main cause of its decline today. Despite conservation and management efforts, the population has failed to recover. In addition, historical records seem to indicate that herring were much more abundant than in recent times.
What you can do
Learn more about Pacific herring and their importance to coastal ecosystems. Check out:
Support a campaign to protect Pacific herring by sending a letter to the Canadian government asking for the closure of the sac roe fishery and to adopt a co-management plan with local First Nations here.