Funding for portions of this research comes from National Geographic Research (co-PI: D. Yang and D.L.), a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Canada Partnership Grant (PI: D.L.), the Tula Foundation, the Hakai Network for Coastal Peoples and Ecosystems, the North Pacific Research Board (PI: T. F. Thornton, with M.L.M. and V.L.B. as coinvestigators), and a SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship and a Borden Fellowship at the University of British Columbia (to I.M.).
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Conservation of natural resources, Forage fishes, Forage fish fisheries, Pacific herring
Over the last century, Pacific herring, a forage fish of tremendous cultural, economic, and ecological importance, has declined in abundance over much of its range. We synthesize archaeological fisheries data spanning the past 10,000 y from Puget Sound in Washington to southeast Alaska to extend the ecological baseline for herring and contextualize the dynamics of modern industrial fisheries. While modern herring populations can be erratic and exhibit catastrophic declines, the archaeological record indicates a pattern of consistent abundance, providing an example of long-term sustainability and resilience in a fishery known for its modern variability. The most parsimonious explanation for the discrepancy between herring abundance in the ancient and more recent past is industrial harvesting over the last century.
McKechnie, I., Lepofsky, D., Moss, M. L., Butler, V. L., Orchard, T. J., Coupland, G., ... & Lertzman, K. (2014). Archaeological data provide alternative hypotheses on Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii) distribution, abundance, and variability. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(9), E807-E816.