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What’s good for herring is good for the Coast

What’s good for herring is good for the Coast

Sam Bowman and Rob Bone at Gibsons Marina preparing to install herring curtains.  Photo submitted

Up and down the Sunshine Coast, herring habitat enhancements are underway. Herring? Habitat enhancement? What does that mean?

Herring are a key species in the Pacific Ocean ecosystem. Herring are eaten by a wide variety of species: salmon, seals, sea lions, orca, herons, eagles and humans, to name just a few. Herring spawn off our coast in sheltered bays and inlets in February and March attracting all range of predators. Most of our docks have creosote covered pilings. Creosote is toxic to herring eggs, meaning that millions die or never hatch each year. One solution is to surround the docks with curtains or netting in which herring can deposit their eggs and keep a safe distance from the creosote pilings. Following recent successes in Pender Harbour, Squamish, and False Creek, the Sunshine Coast Regional Economic Development Organization (SCREDO) is funding expansion of this volunteer enhancement work at up to 10 Sunshine Coast docks this year.

“We’ve had fantastic support from the community”, offered Sam Bowman, project lead. Harbour masters and marina owners have been happy to participate. Rotary clubs have provided experienced marine volunteers, and youth from the Sechelt Alternative School and other youth groups are assisting in building and installing the curtains. “It’s been a fun project spanning three generations of Coast residents.”

Great environmental project, but how is this economic development? A successful herring spawning season strengthens salmon returns, sustains larger marine mammal populations, and brings wider bird populations. In addition to benefiting commercial fisheries, abundant wildlife supports a vibrant tourism industry including sport fishing, whale watching, and eco-tours. These marine industries in turn support economic activity for fuel services, marine repairs and services, and hospitality services.

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Sam Bowman at info@scredo.ca. Don’t delay, the herring are on their way to spawning destinations along our coast.

The Sunshine Coast Regional Economic Development Organization is an arms-length non-profit society formed in 2016 to carry out economic development activities on behalf of the Sechelt Indian Government District, the Town of Gibsons, the District of Sechelt and the Sunshine Coast Regional District.

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