Search for Slhawt’ (Herring)

Harriet the Herring

The mighty rivers; Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, Mámxwem, Ch’iyáḵmesh, Elaho, Ashlu, and Cheekeye are alive with stories and lessons for us all. In Átl’ḵa7tsem/Howe Sound, where these rivers converge, one particularly significant story is unfolding as we speak.

The end of winter has long been marked by the return of the herring for coastal communities around the world. Traditionally these tiny fish represented the first flush of protein to return after a long winter. During this period, known here in the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh snichim as Tem Lhawt’ (Time of the Herring), it is possible to witness the shores of Átl’ḵa7tsem/Howe Sound spring to life as the entire food chain from birds to salmon, to seals and whales, and also, humans share in the celebration.


The Herring Surveys

Starting mid-February the Herring team works their way along the shores of the sound in wetsuits documenting where and when the herring are spawning and monitoring the populations’ well-being in the face of countless historic and current threats posed by the rapid development in Átl’ḵa7tsem and climate change.

Searching for Slhawt’ Survey Objectives

  • To survey, monitor, and document Pacific herring presence in Átl’ḵa7tsem from late winter into spring.
  • Establish and maintain an adaptive program structure that is sustainable, shares capacity within the community, and contributes to the understanding that herring are our relations.
  • Collect data that will be useful and credible for informing decision-making processes in the region.

    Herring Spawn Survey Videos

    2019 – First harvest of Ch’em’esh by students at St’a7mes School in the Aya7Ayulh Chet program (Cultural Journeys)


Timeline (2019-present)



Tem Lhawt’ – Time of Herring on the water and at Aya7Ayulh Chet – St’a7mes School




2021 Survey Results

To explore the results from the herring surveys in 2021, please visit this blog post below and you will find the maps near the end. Happy exploring!

Hoping for Herring


2022 Survey Results

To explore the results from the herring surveys in 2022, please read the following report: Searching for Slhawt’ – Atl’ka7tsem Herring Spawn Report. Enjoy!


Átl’ḵa7tsem Herring Team

Myia Antone (Snorkel surveyor)


Matthew Van Oostdam (Project coordinator)

Johnny Williams (Project lead and snorkel surveyor)


Vivian Joseph (Snorkel surveyor)

Kieran Brownie (Survey support and media)

Bridget John (GIS and mapping support)

Harriet the Herring

Fiona Beaty (Communications and funding)

Courtney Smaha (Admin support)


There are many others contributing to this project. This is not a comprehensive list. Thanks to all the volunteers that are supporting this project.


  • Átl’ḵa7tsem/Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative – Howe Sound Biosphere Region fund
  • Menmen at St’a7mes School in the Aya7Ayulh Chet and Learning Expeditions program
  • Guidance from Elder Bob Baker and Squamish Nation Elders
  • John Buchanan 
  • Streamkeepers
  • Squamish River Watershed Society
  • Squamish Harbour Marina
  • Diving Sports Canada

A Very Merry MSI Update

A Very Merry Marine Stewardship Initiative Update

Have You Heard of Giving Tuesday?

Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving – and the Átl’ḵa7tsem/Howe Sound Marine Stewardship Initiative is participating! We are humbly asking for your support for our annual herring surveys.

Slhawt’ / Herring Survey Update April 8th

The slhawt' / herring spawn survey team have been hard at work. Here's a short update from Matthew Van Oostdam for March 25th to April 8th, 2022. With regards to herring, the first ch'em'esh / herring spawn in Átl'ḵa7tsem of 2022 was documented on March 25th along the...

Slhawt’ / Herring Survey Update March 23rd

Read below to hear an update on the ongoing 2022 slhawt' / herring surveys in Átl’ḵa7tsem/Howe Sound! "Hello everyone, Before I share an update I would like to recognize all the survey volunteers and logistics staff that have been helping make this work a possibility....

The Guide Has A NEW Name – The Marine Stewardship Initiative

The reason behind the name change is to have a name that better encompasses our three pillars (research, decision-support tools, and relationship building and engagement) and so with lots of deliberation we chose the Howe Sound/Átl’ḵa7tsem Marine Stewardship...

Slhawt’ (Herring) Update..

Future herring spawn survey updates will be posted here! Check back in mid-February to keep up to date on the project. Thanks for your interest!

Hoping for Herring

As winter slowly gives way to warmer days, there is new movement in the water. From February to April, Pacific herring (Squamish name: Slhawt', Latin name: Clupea pallasii) return from the open ocean to Howe Sound/Átl'ka7tsem to spawn. Slhawt' lay their small eggs...