Fisheries and Oceans Canada updates Pacific herring coast-wide harvest plan for 2021-22

News release

December 16, 2021

Vancouver, BC - Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) supports fishing opportunities for communities, and is firmly committed to the conservation, protection, and regeneration of our marine environment and the lifeforms they sustain. Herring are a forage fish, an important food source to other keystone species like Pacific salmon, and a critical part of the ecosystem on the Pacific coast. It is vital that we manage Pacific herring with an approach that supports fishing allocation where possible, and one that is consistent with the objectives of stock recovery, and the regeneration of this important species.

Today, the Honourable Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced a more cautious approach to Pacific herring management, based on recently intensified risks to wild salmon, for which herring is an important food source. This approach will see most commercial fisheries for Pacific herring closed, and limited to First Nations food, social and ceremonial fisheries. For the Strait of Georgia, harvesting will be reduced to a 10% harvest rate, with a maximum total allowable catch of 7,850 tonnes.

DFO will soon release the draft Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP), which outlines the scientific projections and proposed management measures for the upcoming season.

This decision was taken with the aim of providing sustainable fishing opportunities and increasing stock abundance, to the benefit of the entire ecosystem. This approach extends the cautious approaches taken in recent years, with additional limits on harvest, and considers the decline of wild Pacific salmon, and the impacts of the recent floods and landslides on fish habitats in British Columbia.

Pacific herring are an important food source for salmon, sea birds, marine mammals and other fish species. Maintaining a healthy herring stock is vital to the health of the ecosystem of coastal British Columbia, and this year’s harvest plan will continue to conserve, protect and regenerate herring stocks for the future. 


When managing our fisheries, we have to consider the local fish harvesters and the long-term health of the entire ecosystem. This is an extraordinary time, when our Pacific Coast is reeling from natural disasters, and the serious damage they have caused to the environment and our iconic Pacific salmon. Herring are vital to the health of our ecosystem, and the stocks are in a fragile state. We must do what we can to protect and regenerate this important forage species.”

The Honourable 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. 

  • DFO will continue to collaborate with First Nations communities to ensure that fishery management decisions are transparent, reflect the most up-to-date scientific information and are aligned with the precautionary approach.

  • In the Strait of Georgia, the maximum harvest levels for the 2021-22 season will be 7,850 tonnes, representing a 10% harvest rate.

Associated links


Kevin Lemkay
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

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