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Will 2016 mark the return of a sustainable herring fishery?

Years of industrial fishing resulted in the near collapse of local herring stocks and decades of controversy over the management of the herring fishery in the Great Bear Sea.

For an overview of what's at stake, watch the video and read on.

This winter, after months of negotiation, the Heiltsuk Nation announced it had reached an agreement with DFO for managing the 2016 herring fishery within their traditional territory. This new plan promises a reprieve for the threatened herring and a level of transparency and collaboration previously unseen on the coast - but it hasn't come easily.

On March 26, 2015, after days of tense negotiation, the commercial fishery was authorized to pull its quota.

“This has not been an easy process, but we are committed to making sure DFO fulfills its mandate to achieve joint management and to exercise the precautionary principle,” said Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Department director, Kelly Brown. “We’ve learned a lot from this last year of negotiations. It’s been trying at times, but we are still confident these joint management agreements can and should be expanded to fisheries up and down the coast.”

For the rest of the season, the focus will be on managing the traditional fishery and pushing to improve and extend the collaborative planning process to 2017 and beyond.

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In The Field

Our team of observers, divers, researchers and filmmakers have been out on the herring grounds and in meetings with the Heiltsuk, DFO, industry, and others to see firsthand how this agreement may serve as a template for co-management for other fisheries along the coast, and to document this epic natural history moment.

On the 29th, we had our first large scale herring sighting on the Great Bear LIVE camera and hydrophone network.

Schools of herring whizzed back and forth in front of our underwater camera, gripping viewers around the world on and off for about an hour. Since then there have been regular sightings over on the Underwater Herring Spawn camera.

To make sure you don't miss their next visit, subscribe to get Great Bear LIVE alerts sent to your phone via text or email.

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Follow Along

We're posting updates on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (Great Bear LIVE and Pacific Wild), and our website as they become available and adding them to our collection of Herring 2016 material when we do!

... and remember, sign up to get #GreatBearLIVE alerts!

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Will 2016 mark the return of a sustainable herring fishery?
Will 2016 mark the return of a sustainable herring fishery?
Welcome to the Great Bear Rainforest
Welcome to the Great Bear Rainforest