LETTER – Herring fisherman offers industry’s side of the debate

Paid protestors want to stop a way of life they know nothing about

Dear editor,

As I finish my 30th year herring fishing, I can’t help but reflect on all the good times we’ve had with local boys from Pender.

Commercial fisherman have endured many challenging times because of support from within and our involvement in various fisheries. Take this fishery away and we are less viable in the future. I’m all for a closure if the science warrants it but not for political or emotional reasons.

It’s hard to believe public sentiment of this fishery has gone from sustainable and economically viable to a so-called environmental atrocity in just a few years. Herring fishing has brought millions of dollars of economic benefit to my home town. This year has brought substantial herring returns and lengthy spawn deposition, yet the environmental movement has us in their sights and protesting has become much more trendy and profitable than resource extraction.

Our fishery is in peril, not for scientific reasons or the status of herring stocks, but because of anti-fishing propaganda that use drones and expensive photography equipment to demonize our livelihood. Local media have yet to report any good press regarding the current stocks of herring in the Strait of Georgia but was right there on Sunday as a handful of protestors staged their opposition to the way we make a living. Television media declined when industry asked to counter the claims made by Pacific Wild.

RELATED: Hundreds gather on shorelines to protest herring fishery

Pacific Wild won’t stop as long as huge donations keep rolling in and urban dwellers want to stop a way of life they know nothing about. It becomes emotionally draining to endure paid protestors following you as you fish herring only to get that perfect shot that makes us look like ruthless killers of nature. Their simplified attack – the orcas are starving from lack of spring salmon in the strait because we’ve decimated the population – is simply false. A simplistic theory that appeals to the politically correct voters in cities. A hypocritical population that develops the banks of the Fraser to Hope and likes to point solely at commercial fisherman for the Fraser salmon crisis. The 75,000-ton biomass assessed this year is done by three boats from Ladysmith to the Comox ferry. Lack of research funding means all the other herring populations in the gulf are not quantified. Herring have spawned already in Pender and all throughout the east side of the gulf. This 75,000-ton biomass is grossly understated while environmental groups will have you believe the ocean is void of life. Go out on the water during herring season and look at a video sounder rather than Facebook and Instagram for unchecked facts.

The quota our own operation caught this year will bring a gross economic benefit to B.C. of close to a half-million dollars. This includes trucking, processing, freezing and shipping our kazunoko to foreign markets. This industry needs your support to overcome this environmental persecution.

If you rely on resource extraction for your livelihood, you could be Pacific Wild’s next victim.

Josh Young,

Pender Harbour, B.C.

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