One of the first signs of spring in the Salish Sea is the arrival of spawning herring, and they are almost here! Comox Valley Nature has organized a series of online talks concerning Pacific herring and other fish in the region. There will be one talk each day from Monday February 22 through Friday February 26.
These are free events, but “seating capacity” is limited, and advance registration for each talk is required. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
Note that the start time for each talk is 10:00 am.
Salish Sea Herring 101, Biology Human Use , Status and Management
Monday, February 22, 10:00 am
Speaker: Dr. John Neilson
In this talk, John provides an introduction to Pacific herring, the critical foundation of the Salish Sea marine ecosystem. John discusses its biology, recent human use, and the current status of the resource. He concludes by describing how Pacific herring will become one of the first Canadian fish stocks to be managed using the so-called Precautionary Approach, and what that means for the future.
The Legal Protection of Forage Fish Beaches
Tuesday, February 23, 10:00 am
Speakers: Ellen Campbell (Environmental Law Centre, U.Vic.), Jacklyn Barrs (Specialist, Ecosystems Restoration, WWF Canada), Ian Bruce (QEP, Dip. Restoration of Natural Systems, President – Watershed Ecological Services Ltd., Executive Coordinator – Peninsula Streams Society)
Additional panelists: Calvin Sandborn QC (Legal Director – Environmental Law Centre), Megan Buchanan (former ELC student)
Discussion of the ELC report, Saving Orcas by Protecting Fish Spawning Beaches—including necessary law reforms and field measures to protect forage fish spawning habitat.
Assessing Seabird Ecological Correlates to Inform Conservation
Wednesday, February 24, 10:00 am
Speaker: Dr. Ignacio Vilchis
Seabirds are known indicators of ecosystem status and change in marine environments. This is because most marine birds are long-lived, migratory, and at upper levels of food webs and therefore ideal indicators of changing productivity and ecosystem structure across broad spatial and temporal scales. In addition, marine birds are highly visible in habitats where most other animals are underwater, making them much more accessible to count than other marine life.
In this seminar Dr. Vilchis will argue that marine monitoring programs assessing ecosystem-wide trends in biodiversity and abundance of entire communities can reveal important clues about the commonalities of species that are more likely to stop frequenting an ecosystem. And that this is particularly true for seabirds, as syntheses of long-term trends in a marine predator community will not only provide unique insights into the types of species that are at risk of extirpation and why, but can also inform conservation measures to counteract threats—information that is paramount for species-specific and ecosystem-wide conservation.
Rebuilding Fisheries: Unlocking Canada’s Potential for Abundant Oceans
Thursday, February 25, 10:00 am
Speaker: Dr. Robert Rangeley
Healthy fish populations are critical to healthy ecosystems and coastal communities. Our oceans are facing growing threats and greater uncertainty, putting the marine life we all depend upon at risk. Bob will summarize the current state of Canada’s fisheries and fisheries management recommendations for restoring abundance to our oceans.
Salish Sea Archaeology of Herring
Friday, February 26, 10:00 am
Speaker: Dr. Iain McKechnie
For many Indigenous peoples, the right and ability to fish is inseparably linked to their history, social relations, economy, and physical well-being. In British Columbia, salmon are iconic and have greatly enriched perspectives on the importance and antiquity of these fish for people’s livelihoods and life on the coast. However, in archaeology, an emphasis on salmon has received much attention relative to other species, particularly as small fish such as herring, anchovies, and smelts tend to not be as readily recovered during excavation and screening.
In this presentation, Dr. McKechnie describes zooarchaeological fisheries records from over 222 heritage sites from Alaska, British Columbia, and Washington to provide measures of Indigenous fisheries catches spanning the past several millennia. In particular, he observes that herring (not salmon) are the most common and abundant fish in the majority of zooarchaeological assemblages (NISP) but particularly in the Salish Sea. He advocates for consideration of archaeological datasets for contemporary management and harvesting plans and for considering restoring the past abundance and former spawning locations of herring.