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UFAWU-Unifor Letter to Minister Joyce Murray on Herring Fisheries

Dear Minister,

Re: Pacific Herring Commercial Fisheries

UFAWU-Unifor is deeply concerned about the delay of the 2021/2022 Pacific Herring commercial fishing season. Our members and associate organizations rely on an expectation of sound and timely decision-making from your office, and we ask that you act on the recommendations put before you.

We support DFO’s mission of ensuring Canada’s aquatic ecosystems and fisheries are sustainable and economically successful. The proposed Pacific Herring Management Plan is bound by DFO’s mandate and role and falls within the Sustainable Fisheries Framework. We urge you to adhere to your best available science, end this delay, and proceed with the fishing plan based on the Total Allowable Catch approved by Pacific Region staff and HIAB.

This year, the Minister’s office enacted long-term closures in salmon fisheries outside of the established salmon planning process, with no warning to harvesters or local managers, and no emergency framework in place to help those hurt by this decision. We do not condone this trend in the practical management of our fisheries.

In the past three years alone, the trust and expectation in the Fisheries Minister to manage the Pacific Region in a collaborative and timely manner based on peer-reviewed science have been strained to a breaking point by initiatives such as Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative, Steelhead window closures, a near loss of tubbing FAS prawns, and the ongoing uncertainty of the proposed Pacific Herring management plans. These initiatives have been devastating, especially to small vessel fleets and our coastal communities that depend on them.

We recognize there have been calls to reduce or impose a moratorium on this critically important fishery. The Pacific Herring fishery recommendations are based on data collected through proper methodology in test fisheries, dive surveys, flight surveys, and the most robust data set available to DFO, and use the precautionary approach of conservation first. This is all peer-reviewed by the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat.

Opponents of the fishery have drawn on misleading statements about First Nations as a whole, dehumanization of harvesters, improper use of data, implying decades-old management practises are still in effect, and guidance from dishonourably expunged leadership within their organizations. They have been effective at spreading misinformation, but they are not in the business of peer-reviewed science.

We expect the decisions impacting the lives of British Columbians to be based on observation, measurement, and evaluation. We are a part of our coastal communities and our survival is critical to BC food security. We do not want compensation packages, labour force adjustment programs, or buy-outs. We want to fish within the boundaries of our proven sustainable management practices and remind you of the value we bring to our coast.


James Lawson

UFAWU-Unifor President

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