Volunteers work to protect False Creek herring population

Click to play video: 'False Creek Herring net' False Creek Herring net
WATCH: The Squamish Streamkeepers society is known for bringing herring back to Howe Sound, and now their campaign to do the same at False Creek is getting a boost. Jennifer Palma explains why – Jan 11, 2016

False Creek is a traditional spawning ground for herring, but a marina and industry have helped kill off stocks. For the past three years the Squamish Streamkeepers Society has been working to bring herring back to False Creek.

Herring have a three-year cycle but they have had a tough time surviving in False Creek due in part to toxic creosote pilings. Volunteers like Dr. Jonn Matsen have wrapped them up and it’s made a difference.

“We put these wrappers on…this is an unnatural material — non-toxic fortunately —  that allows the herring to spawn on successfully,” he said.

While the wrappers have helped, oil from boats and tides that bring oil up and down the pilings have killed many of the eggs. Last year a sinking boat killed off 95 per cent of herring eggs.

This year the group is working on a netting system to help save the herring.

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“What we’re doing this year, we’re making some nets that we’re going to keep subtidal, that will hang…10 feet deep in the water below the surface so we hopefully won’t have an oil spill die-off anymore,” Matsen said.

The area has the potential to hatch hundreds of millions of eggs, which is good news for our ecosystem.

“Herring are a key part of the food chain,” Matsen said.

– With files from Jennifer Palma

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