The Return of the Herring Population to Indian Arm

As Spring comes into bloom, it’s the perfect time to take a moment for gratitude, to stop and behold the beauty of the land and waters we share. For Earth Day, 2022, it’s important to remember what we’re fighting for when we protect our waters. This week, the TWN field crew were surprised and delighted to observe evidence of extensive herring spawn in the waters of the territory. 

For thousands of years, herring had been a reliable and plentiful food source for the Tsleil-Waututh people. However, herring were extirpated from Burrard Inlet 130 years ago from a devastating dynamite fishery. From 2016 to 2020 herring populations in the Pacific decreased almost 60 percent from overfishing, habitat degradation and a warming ocean. Fortunately, though, in 2019, TWN found the first evidence of the herring returning to spawn in the inlet. This years’ large spawning could be the return of that generation. 

Herring are a key link in the food chain – they draw seabirds and seals to the inlet, which in turn draw orcas in numbers not seen for lifetimes. This is the ecosystem returning.


TWN is working to restore shorelines, address contaminants and improve water quality in Burrard Inlet so we can once again harvest healthy, wild, marine food. The return of the herring is a sign that we are on the right track. 

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