Posted by: Bob Payne | September 4, 2011

Summit to save BC herring draws First Nations, other experts

Harvey Kitka regularly tows hemlock saplings, three metres long, behind his boat. Sometimes the trees are older and five times that size. A member of the Tlingit tribe in Sitka, Alaska — the aboriginal people make up about half the town’s population of 8,500 — Kitka is doing something the Tlingit have done for at least 300 years, transplanting herring roe. Herring spawn cling to the trees Kitka tows to areas without herring. It’s a traditional way to cultivate the roe, a food source so fatty a hungry black bear emerging from its winter den will seek it out. If the bear emerges too late for the roe, it will vacuum piles of sand fleas that have fed on the spawn. Herring were a respite from winter rations for coastal indigenous people for at least 8,200 years. Before potato chips, it was dried roe that provided people with a crunchy, salty snack.


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