OMF visits Haida Gwaii

The Ocean Modeling Forum has been engaging since 2014 with a diverse group of stakeholders and scientists from Alaska and British Columbia, focused on improving herring fisheries sustainability. Together we have developed approaches and tools to assess the impacts of herring fisheries on the diverse benefits provided by herring and herring harvest activities to communities, economies, and the ecosystem.

Herring roe harvest. Photo by Ian McAllister/Pacific Wild

In January 2019, OMF herring team members Phil Levin, Tessa Francis, and Melissa Poe were invited to Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, to provide advice on the development of a herring rebuilding plan for Haida Gwaii herring. Leading the development of the rebuilding plan is a technical group formed of representatives from the Council of Haida Nations (CHN), Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), and Parks Canada. The OMF team shared our work with the rebuilding plan technical group, as well as with the Archipelago Management Board, a collaborative group comprised of CHN and Parks Canada representatives who collectively manage the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site.

We shared models and approaches developed by the OMF team for use in supporting herring fisheries management decisions. One model incorporates traditional ecological knowledge about herring migration behavior, and shows that populations with this behavior are more likely to suffer fast and long-lasting local extinctions under fishing. We shared a novel spatial stock assessment model that more accurately reflects the population structure of herring, for potential use in a management strategy evaluation being undertaken as part of the herring rebuilding plan. And we shared a process for selection of human wellbeing objectives for marine ecosystems, based on anthropological and traditional knowledge studies, that can be used when evaluating trade-offs of alternative management strategies.

Herring eggs on algae

The OMF team plans to remain engaged in the herring rebuilding plan process, supporting the technical team and providing tools and advice as needed. More information about the herring tools and products can be found on the working group home page.

The Ocean Modeling Forum is a University of Washington program that helps managers, scientists, and the ocean community use models to take on complex ocean issues. Major funding comes from the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Lenfest Ocean Program.

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