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Most commercial fisheries for Pacific herring on the West Coast have been closed with the exception of harvests by First Nations for food and ceremonial purposes.

Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray says in a statement that this “cautious” approach to Pacific herring management is based on recently intensified risks to wild salmon.

Pacific herring are an important food source for the salmon, sea birds, marine mammals and other fish.

Murray says herring are vital to the health of the ecosystem and stocks are in a fragile state, so an effort must be made to “protect and regenerate this important forage species.”

She says harvesting of Pacific herring will be reduced to a 10 per cent rate in the Strait of Georgia with a maximum total allowable catch of 7,850 tonnes.

The statement says the decision was taken with the aim of providing sustainable fishing opportunities and increasing stock, while considering the decline of wild salmon, and the impacts of the recent floods and landslides on fish habitats in B.C.

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