Green Party stands in solidarity with Heiltsuk Nation to defend herring fishery

OTTAWA – The Green Party of Canada supports the Heiltsuk Nation’s efforts in Bella Bella, B.C., to defend local herring stocks that are at risk.

“I stand in solidarity with the people from the Heiltsuk Nation, who have continually fought to defend herring stocks they have harvested for countless generations,” said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Saanich – Gulf Islands. “I am surprised that Fisheries and Oceans Canada analysis of herring stock used such a wide geographic scale to justify re-opening the fishery – It appears that the report did not look at the specific region where the fishery is actually located.

“The Government of Canada needs to address the larger problem of flawed reports to prevent further ecological disasters.”

Despite warnings from the Heiltsuk Nation, Fisheries and Oceans Canada re-opened the commercial herring-roe seine fisheries last Sunday near Bella Bella. Herring stocks have continually declined over the last 50 years due to overfishing.

“It has been a bad week for Aboriginal people in British Columbia. The B.C. Treaty Commission was suddenly scrapped without any consultation and the DFO’s insistence on holding a herring fishery in the Heiltsuk territory despite clear opposition from the First Nation because the stocks have been ravaged by unsustainable fishing practices,” added Adam Olsen, Interim-Leader of the B.C. Green Party. “We cannot afford to continue this way – this 19th century approach is costing us immensely, and it will continue to be a burden on our children and grandchildren if our governments continue to act like there is nothing wrong.”

“There is a general consensus in the region that the conventional commercial practices of fishing herring are inefficient and ecologically dangerous,” concluded Glenn Sollitt, the Green Party’s Fisheries and Oceans Critic and candidate for Courtenay – Alberni.

“Fisheries and Oceans Canada must conduct a thorough investigation into the viability of sustainable fisheries in the region – It must extensively consult and heed the advice of local and Indigenous fishers, who have a deep understanding about the health of local fishing stocks.”