Carla Villalobos Trejo, Cailey Nikodem and Laurie Reid get ready to install herring curtains around docks at an Oyster farm located in the Sechelt Inlet.
 
Members of the Rotary Club of the Sunshine Coast and the Chatelech High School Interact Club have teamed together to provide safer, healthier environments for herring to lay eggs which may give them an increased chance for survival.
 
Herring are a forage fish that move in large schools along the northern shorelines of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. They spawn in February and March in sheltered bays and inlets. Their numbers have been in serious decline over the past several years due to issues such as over-fishing, but there are also environmental factors that are stopping them from building back up to a healthy population.  “There used to be lots more kelp and eelgrass in the inlet, which is the traditional substrate for the herring eggs," said Sunshine Coast Rotarian, Laurie Reid. With reduced kelp and eelgrass along the shorelines, herring will lay their eggs on docks and other man-made structures in the water. Unfortunately, this means their eggs often come into contact with creosote-covered pilings and docks. Creosote is highly toxic to herring eggs, meaning that millions never hatch. "So we put curtains off of docks that have creosote in order to have more successful hatches," said Reid.
 
Reid, the owner of Pedals and Paddles, was out recently with Carla Villalobos Trejo and Cailey Nikodem from the Chatelach High School Interact club installing nets on dock pilings at an Oyster Farm in the Sechelt Inlet.“The idea is to offer more areas for the eggs to attach to and to hopefully produce more herring,” Reid said. 
 
"Since herring are also eaten by salmon, seals, sea lions, eagles and numerous other species, reversing their declining numbers is vital to the health of the ecosystem on the Sunshine Coast and to the health of the community as a whole," said Sam Bowman of the Sunshine Coast Regional Economic Development Organization. A successful herring spawning season brings stronger salmon runs and attracts larger marine mammal and bird populations. This not only benefits commercial fisheries. It also supports a vibrant tourism industry including sport fishing, whale watching and eco-tours.
 
For more information or if you would like to volunteer to help this project, contact Laurie Reid at lauriereid4@gmail.com.
 
Below are more photos of their day strapping nets to the docks at the oyster farm in the Sechelt Inlet.