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In Their Words : The Story of BC Packers
A close-up of a herring popper
A close-up of a herring ‘popper’ as she pops the roe from the fish. Imperial Cannery, 1970s.
City of Richmond Archives 1985 4 527
A close-up of a herring popper Women handling herring roe Men weighing buckets of herring roe Women sorting herring roe by size A multicultural mix of women working as herring poppers

Herring Roe

In 1967, over-fishing forced the closure of British Columbia's herring fishery. The future looked grim for herring fishermen and reduction plant workers. By the early 1970s, Japanese interest in herring roe, the eggs of the fish, revitalized the reduction industry. Herring were caught in smaller numbers than in the past. Canneries hired hundreds of men and women to remove and process the valuable roe. Reduction plants turned the discarded herring carcasses into meal, oil and solubles.

Since the closure of the herring reduction plant at BC Packers' Imperial Cannery in 1997, much of the fish waste reduction in British Columbia has been handled by the massive West Coast Reduction facility in East Vancouver.

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