The herring fishing season has begun as local fishermen entered the Northumberland Strait after 3 p.m. Monday for the beginning of the season.
Herring fishing is done mostly at night to find schools of herring in the deep waters of the Atlantic.
The season began September 3 and will end as soon as the quota is met, however, local fishermen are not pleased that their quota has been reduced by almost 30 per cent.
Last year the herring quota was 8,500 tonnes for the 16F district which typically includes Pictou and Antigonish counties. It was reduced to 6,145 tonnes this season.
“We have what we call a global quota,” explains Ronald Heighton, president of the Northumberland Fisherman’s Association.
“What that means is our 6,145 tonnes is shared between the 140 to 150 boats that will be out in the 16F area.”
The entire gulf region’s quota was cut because of a mismanagement of herring in other areas.
“There are no herring in some of the other areas… and because of that the quota was cut for the entire gulf,” says Heighton.
To avoid running out of herring, the 16F area does not fish on weekends and only takes in 15,000 pounds of fish per night.
“We fish where the schools are so most of the boats are close together and we can judge where we are throughout the night,” he says.
Only 16 per cent of the quota is given to the 16F area.
“Our challenge this year is to get our quota based on our own area,” says Heighton.
“After this season we will be approaching the Department of Fisheries and Oceans about having the quota changed.”
The price of herring on the market in New Brunswick right now is approximately 26 cents per pound, but Heighton doesn’t know what it may be in Nova Scotia.
“It is based on the Japanese market as the roe, smoked carcasses and canned herring are shipped mostly to Japan.”
Herring is fished during the spawning season and based on the warmer weather, Heighton expects the season may be a bit later as “herring don’t care much for hot water.”