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A school of herring enters an inlet just before spawning.

The Heiltsuk Nation is vowing to protect herring in its territory by any means necessary as it readies boats to block a contentious fishery on B.C.'s central coast.

The First Nation has issued a news release saying it met with federal officials about a commercial herring gillnet fishery in its territory Wednesday afternoon but failed to reach an agreement.

Kelly Brown, who directs the Heiltsuk's resource management department, says the industry took 680 tons out of the same area with a recent seine fishery, and a gillnet fishery "would only add insult to injury."

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The Department of Fisheries and Oceans opened the herring-roe seine fishery near Bella Bella on Sunday, saying there is enough stock to support the harvest.

The Heiltsuk Nation says it has received strong statements of support from neighbouring bands and other aboriginal governments, including a resolution passed by Coastal First Nations on Wednesday condemning the actions of the DFO.

Chief Councillor Marilyn Slett says she feels the nation has exhausted all means of negotiation with the DFO and it is now prepared to protect the herring "by any means necessary."

"We are saddened that it has come to this, but we cannot stand by while DFO uses flawed science to destroy a resource we have depended on for thousands of years," she says in a release.

"If we don't protect the herring, who will?"

The Heiltsuk Nation is the latest aboriginal band on B.C.'s coast to speak out in a long-standing dispute over the sustainability of the herring fishery.

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