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The Fish

The waters of Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound support some 400 species of fish, including prized salmon, herring, halibut, rockfish, sablefish and oolichan. Each one plays an important role in the intricate marine ecosystem of this coast. The fish also help maintain the economy in many coastal communities where fishing is a mainstay. The second and third largest herring fisheries in B.C. occur in an area that could be opened to oil and gas development.

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Of all the fish species, salmon has iconic status in British Columbia because of its importance to First Nations people, sport and commercial fishermen and to the environment. Salmon provide a crucial link between marine and freshwater habitats and has been identified as a keystone species because it supports a diversity of marine and terrestrial life and contributes to the fertility of the coastal forest ecosystem. Approximately 650 major salmon spawning streams are found along B.C.’s central and northern coast. With offshore oil and gas development, salmon would be highly vulnerable. While, the impacts of seismic testing is still unknown, pink salmon runs in Alaska are still recuperating 14 years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill tarnished the coastline.

  For more information about the importance of salmon to the ecosystem click here.

  For more information about the impacts of the Exxon Valdez oil spill click here.

The coast of B.C. is renowned for valuable and delicious shellfish species like shrimp, crab, clams, scallops, mussels, oysters, geoducks and sea urchins. In addition to their ecological value, these crustaceans support commercial fisheries that supply important international markets, not to mention, a vital and historic food fishery for First Nations people.

Herring are an important part of the marine food web. They are a food source for gulls, ducks, pilchards, jellyfish, fish, and marine mammals. There are 1509 commercial licences for harvesting herring roe, creating thousands of jobs. The roe on kelp fishery is worth over 10 million dollars. In addition, herring are an important part of the First Nations subsistence fishery. Herring spawn on the beaches and an oil spill would devastate the stocks.