The Herring School Workshop

Bringing together culture, ecology and governance to support sustainability.

August 31 - September 2, 2011

Over three days, scientists, resource managers, and members of First Nation and Native Alaskan communities gathered to share and discuss the cultural, social, ecological and economic roles of herring on the West Coast.  A welcome by Reg Moody of the Gladstone Reconciliation Committee encouraged participants to be open and honest. Emotion infused the room as representatives from Alaska and British Columbia’s indigenous communities shared similar stories of both the cultural importance of herring and the decline, or disappearance of herring stocks from their local waters. Echoed were the impacts of these losses on the intimate relationship once held between people, communities and herring. This intimacy was poignantly expressed by Michelle Washington of the Sliammon First Nation, who shared her sadness that her daughters will never partake in the excitement and community empowerment she felt as a child during the yearly herring fishery. The heartfelt stories of these speakers on Day 1 provided a framework for the remainder of the workshop by confirming that the herring crisis is not simply a local issue, rather, one that influences communities globally.

Day 2 involved presentations by scientists and fisheries managers who reported on current research, management and policy practices, as well as gaps in our knowledge and practice. Examples of working closely with First Nation communities emphasized the power gained by collaboration between western science and traditional knowledge.

The workshop closed on Day 3 by focusing on steps to move forward. Priorities for continued and expanding research efforts were discussed, as were management strategies. The need for trust and the building and rebuilding of relationships became an over arching theme in all disciplines. Better understanding of values, as well as open lines of communication between all parties, were highlighted as requirements in order to facilitate the ability to initiate change.

Stan Dennis of Lax Kw'alaams Band said that he “heard the voice of the herring” at this workshop.  Frank Brown, of the Heiltsuk First Nation, emphasized a call to action: that we are responsible as stewards and need to raise public awareness. These action items ranged from personally sharing workshop stories with home communities, to collaborating on public documents. For example, the Herring School will be facilitating scientists, First Nations and managers in creating a co-authored paper for a high profile journal and in the writing of a “Declaration of Inter-dependence” that outlines our common understanding and concerns about herring. The hope is to bring the world’s attention to the herring crisis by exploring cultural, social, ecological, and economic issues.

Despite the state of herring throughout most of the west coast, there remains an encouraging amount of hope and fight in those who attended the workshop. As Cliff Atleo, President, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, reminded us: ‘the beauty of being a fisher is that we are eternally optimistic’.



Below please find the program for the Herring Workshop or click here to download a pdf version. We have made available presentations and audio recordings for download as they were provided to us.


The Herring Workshop is a product of the many people in the "Herring School" --- a group of researchers from diverse communities who are keenly interested in the social and ecological roles of herring on the West Coast. We acknowledge generous financial support from teh Social Science and Humanities Research Council, the Tula Foundation, the SFU VP Academic, and SFU's Faculty of Environment, Department of Archaeology, Melissa Hadley at Cortex. The powerful image of the herring ball on the programme cover is used with permission of the artist, Tony Angell. The image is published in Angell's book, "Puget Sound through an Artist's Eye" (University of Washington Press, 2009). We acknowledge the Coast Salish Nations, on whose traditional lands we are gathering.

Welcomes and Introductions
Rudy Reimer/Yumks (Squamish First Nation and Simon Fraser University)
Reg Moody (Gladstone Reconciliation, Heiltsuk First Nation)
   - click here for audio
Andrew Petter (President, Simon Fraser University)
Dana Lepofsky (SFU Herring School)

Day 1 Cultural Context

Session 1: The Alaska Perspective
1. Sitka: Harvey Kitka - (Tlingit Tribe; Subsistence Regional Advisory Council)
2. "History of fishing in Alaska" Fritz Funk (Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game, retired)

Session 2: The British Columbia Perspective 
1. The North Coast: James Bryant, Bill Shepert (Lax Kw'alaams)
2. Haida Qwaii: Barb Wilson (Haida Nation)
3. Central Coast: Edwin Newman (Heiltsuk Nation)
   - click here for audio
4. West Coast Vancouver Island: Clifford Atleo
(Nuu-Chah-Nulth Nation)

5. N/ Georgia Strait: Michelle Washington (Sliammon First Nation)
   - click here for audio 
6. S. Georgia Strait: Arvid Charlie (Cowichan Tribes)
7. "BC history" Jake Schweigert (Department of Fisheries and Oceans)

Day 2. The Current Context: Management, Policy, and Economics

Session 1: Scientific Research - What do we know, what don't we know?
1. "Research & Information Needs: THe Spawn on Kelp Fishery perspective" Gary Vigers (Expert Witness: Gladstone Case)
   - click here for audio
2. "Information requirements for the assessment of stock status for BC herring" Steve Martell (UBC)
3. "Quantifying ecological effects of herring spawn" Margot Hessing-Lewis (OSU/SFU), Brittany Keeling (SFU), Caroline Fox (UVic/Raincoast), Anna Gerrard (SFU), Tom Reimchen (UVic), Paul Paquet (Raincoast), Anne Salomon (SFU)
4. "Ripple effects: relationships between spawning herring and marin birts and mammals" Dan Esler (SFU)

Session 2: Management
1. "A coast-wide perspective on the pacific herring fisheris of North America" Martin Robards (SFU and Wildlife Conservation Society)
2. "Brokering relationships between subsistence users and managers in herring fisheries in Alaska" Davin Holen (AK Dept. of Fish and Game)
3. "Past, present and future of BC herring management in BC" Dennis Chalmers (Ministry for Agriculture, Marine Fisheries and Seafood Development)
4. "Challenges and opportunities in managing BC herring stocks" Ashleen Benson (SFU)
   - click here for audio
5. "Washington State management" Kurt Stick (Washington, Dept of Fish & Wildlife)

Session 3: Policy and Legal Context
1. "Herring spawn licenses, R v. Gladstone, and Aboriginal rights to fish" Douglas Harris (UBC Law)
   - click here for audio
2. DFO herring policy and co-management. Lisa Mijacika and Corey Jackson (DFO)
   - click here for audio

Session 4: Coming to Consensus about the State of Herring
1. Discussion and "Coming to consensus" breakout groups
   - click here for audio

Evening Banquet (The Herring Ball). Diamond Alumni Club. Herring video by Mark Wunsch. After dinner talk by Briony Penn: "Herring in the Media"

Day 3. Moving Forward

Introduction and review of objectives for the day. Ken Lertzman (SFU)

Reporting by Consensus breakout groups from Thursday afternoon.

Moving Forward Breakout Groups: facilitators (note takers)
1. Governance: Co-Management/Policy/Legal - Martin Robards/ Jen Silver (Alisha Gauvreau)
2. Contemporary Social-Cultural impacts and Deep-time research - Dana Lepofsky/ Madonna Moss (Julia Jackley)
3. Ecology/ Science research issues/ priorities/ gaps - Anne Salomon/ Margot Hessing-Lewis (Brittany Keeling)
4. Management Evaluation and Strategies - Steve Martell/ Ashleen Benson (Anna Gerrard)

Reporting by Moving Forward breakout groups.

Closing Discussion

Click here and here for audio of closing discussions.