More than 50,000 online petitioners call for cancellation of Pacific herring roe fishery in March

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      There's a growing uproar over the Trudeau government's plans to allow a herring roe fishery in the Strait of Georgia next month.

      Conservancy Hornby Island launched an online petition on change.org and it has attracted 56,247 signatories, as of this writing.

      It's directed to Fisheries and Oceans Canada Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, who's also the Liberal MP for North Vancouver.

      Roe herring are prized for their eggs. This fishery generally occurs in five areas—Prince Rupert District, Central Coast, Haida Gwaii, West Coast of Vancouver Island, and Strait of Georgia—according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

      Conservancy Hornby Island points out that Pacific herring are the basis of a food web that supports salmon, orcas, and most other mammals and seabirds.

      To cite one example, endangered southern resident orcas are heavily reliant on chinook salmon. Chinook salmon, in turn, rely on herring as a major food source.

      "Again this year, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has approved the catch of approximately 200 million spawning herring in the Georgia Strait—the last viable herring roe fishery on the coast—without considering what impact this may have on all the other sea creatures who rely on this one species of forage fish," the petition states.

      Watch this video by Conservancy Hornby Island explaining the importance of the herring migration as a food source for marine mammals and seabirds.

      Moreover, the petition points out that the herring fishery is not very lucrative.

      Whereas people in the fishing industry generated up to $5,000 a ton three decades ago, they might only collect between $150 to $700 per ton nowadays.

      "What happened? Japanese taste changed," the petition notes. "Where herring roe was once considered a delicacy it is no longer by younger Japanese. Times change and yet DFO keeps allowing this outdated fishery to carry on."

      As a result of lower demand from humans, about 90 percent of the herring that are caught are converted into food for pets and fish in aquaculture operations.

      "Using wild fish for non-human consumption is illegal under the federal Fisheries Act. When 90% of the herring is used for fish farm and pet food is the federal Minister of Fisheries breaking the law?"

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