Government of Canada releases 2020-21 Pacific Herring Integrated Fisheries Management Plan

News release

February 19, 2021

Vancouver, British Columbia – The Government of Canada is committed to responsibly managing Pacific herring fisheries to ensure the sustainability of the stock for today and generations to come. This work requires close collaboration with First Nations communities and commercial harvesters while considering the herring distribution, spawn dynamics, and traditional harvest regions and methods.

Today, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced that Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has released the 2020-21 Pacific Herring Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP). The IFMP is developed in the fall of each year and describes the scientific results and proposed management measures for the upcoming season, including gear allocations, open areas and harvest levels. Prior to the release, a 30-day public consultation period was held to ensure that DFO’s fishery management decisions are transparent, developed through the best available science, and informed by First Nations groups, commercial harvesters and input from the public.

The 2020-21 IFMP includes commercial fisheries closures in Haida Gwaii and the West Coast of Vancouver Island. First Nations food, social and ceremonial fisheries are permitted in all areas. The 2020-21 IFMP will include sustainable commercial fisheries in the following areas:

  • Central Coast, for spawn-on-kelp commercial fisheries;
  • Prince Rupert District, for limited access for spawn-on-kelp commercial fisheries; and
  • Strait of Georgia, for commercial fisheries for food and bait, roe and special use.

The IFMP also contains opportunities for small commercial spawn-on-kelp fisheries in other areas.

The sustainability of Pacific herring is a top priority for the Government of Canada. DFO conducts annual scientific surveys for each of the five major Pacific herring stock areas. The harvest approach utilized for this fishery has been rigorously tested by the Department following international best practices. This testing demonstrates that the harvest approach is highly likely to conserve the stocks over the long term.

Herring play a vital role in the ecosystem of coastal British Columbia and are a food source for marine mammals and other fish species. Harvest rates are applied to the estimated mature spawning biomass which ensures that the majority of mature herring, and all juvenile herring, are available to support ecosystem functions. Maintaining a healthy herring stock is pivotal to the ecosystem and economy, and this year’s harvest strategy will continue to help to protect the health of future stocks.


Our government understands the need to protect the health and sustainability of coastal British Columbia’s herring stock, which is a forage fish vital to the entire ecosystem. After rigorous scientific stock assessments the results demonstrate a healthy and stable herring stock in the Strait of Georgia, which has been consistent for the past decade. We are applying the precautionary approach to ensure the long term viability of herring for our ocean ecosystems and harvesters alike. 

The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard 

Quick facts

  • DFO conducts annual scientific surveys for each of the five major Pacific herring stock areas. These scientific surveys, along with biological sampling, inform a yearly scientific stock assessment with up-to-date advice on the status of all five major stocks.

  • In 2016, DFO initiated the Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE) process for Pacific herring to evaluate the likelihood of how different harvest decisions would be expected to achieve conservation, abundance and fishery objectives.

  • Under the MSE process, DFO scientists use computer models to test the ability of various harvest scenarios to maintain herring stocks above the limit reference point with a high degree of certainty.

  • Food and Bait and Special Use fisheries opened on November 20, 2020 in the Strait of Georgia with an initial total allowable catch (TAC) of 1,905 tonnes for the Food and Bait fishery and 818 tonnes for the Special Use fishery. This initial allocation was increased on December 30, 2020 to 3,720 tonnes. These fisheries provide herring to a variety of markets, including for human consumption.

  • DFO has finalized the following maximum harvest levels for the 2020-21 season in the major stock areas: 

    • Central Coast: 1,760 tonnes, representing a 5% harvest rate
    • Prince Rupert District: 910 tonnes, representing a 5% harvest rate
    • Strait of Georgia: 16,330 tonnes, representing at 20% harvest rate
    • West Coast Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii: closed to commercial fisheries
  • Last year, the Strait of Georgia (SOG) stock allocation was 20%, this year it remains consistent and stable at 20%.

Associated links


Jane Deeks
Press Secretary 
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada 

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