Herring School


Pacific herring is a "cultural keystone" species for First Nations up and down the coast and is a foundation of coastal food webs.  Despite thousands of years of continuous use in the past, many herring stocks have collapsed over much of the region and fail to recover even if fishing pressure is reduced. We're now faced with a complex problem where changing climate and North Pacific oceanography interact with a history of relentless industrial exploitation, insufficient science, and the unmet needs of local First Nations, Alaska Natives, and Native American communities.  The Herring School seeks to better understand this complex problem and identify sustainable solutions.We share the resources from these workshops below and will post updates on the next gathering soon.

The “Herring School” is a collaboration of people from Simon Fraser, other Universities, and First Nations communities who are keenly interested in the cultural and ecological importance of herring. See list below for a list of some of the members of the School.

By combining traditional and western knowledge from diverse communities, the Herring School seeks to address the following key questions about herring in the NW Pacific:

  • What is the spatial and temporal distribution of herring?
  • What are the relationships between herring and people across space and time?
  • What are the ecological and socio-cultural causes of changes in these relationships through time?
  • What are the ecological and socio-cultural consequences of these changes through time?
  • How does this knowledge inform modern management?

To begin to address some of these questions, the Herring School conducted fieldwork in March, 2011 and 2012 in Bella Bella.

Visit the Herring School Website:

Coordinators: Dana Lepofsky, Ken Lertzman, Anne Salomon (SFU), Gladstone Team, Ross Wilson, Larry Jorgenson, Jennifer Carpenter and others in Bella Bella


In an effort to share and exchange information three workshops or dialogues have taken place between August 2011 and February 2013. They include:

1. August 31 - September 2, 2011 -  "Bringing Together Culture, Ecology and Governance to Support Sustainability".  This gathering brought together knowledge-holders from diverse communities to discuss the cultural, social, ecological, and economic role of herring on the West Coast - from Alaska through BC to Washington.  Participants included both those based in local and traditional knowledge and those based in western science.  This combination provided a regional perspective on herring history, science, management and cultural context that has not yet been compiled in a single place.  To view the resource materials from this workshop click here.

2. September 4, 2012  - "Where Are We? Where Do We Go From Here?".  Participants at this gathering reviewed  findings of the 2012 fieldwork and discussed plans for ongoing research. To view the resource materials from this workshop click here.

3. February 5, 2013 - "Symposium on Advancing Ecosystem-Based Management of Low-Trophic Level Fisheries in British Columbia. International experts Drs. Ellen Pikitch and Tim Essington shared their research on ecosystem-based approaches to fisheries management using case studies to demonstrate how scientific guidance can be used to implement ecosystem-based approaches for forage fisheries.  Invited researchers, resource managers, industry representatives, stewardship groups and First nations then discussed the potential for ecosystem-based measures for herring fisheries in BC.  To view the resource materials from this gathering, click here.


Video: Herring an Important Fish

Herring and Archaeolgoy

Herring School Blog


Some of the Herring Schoolers (by areas of specialty/contribution):

Policy, co-management, governance:

Ancient and modern DNA: