A revolting stench overpowering a Vancouver Island community is actually good news for the local tourism industry, local businesses say.

A historic year for herring spawning along the east coast of Vancouver Island – particularly between Northwest Bay and Qualicum River – has resulted in more herring roe this spring than usual.

Nowhere is that being seen and smelled more than French Creek, where rotting herring roe eggs litter the local beach, releasing hydrogen sulphide as they break down.

“This is not what we normally experience,” said Sean De Pol of the Regional District of Nanaimo. “The French Creek Marina has a very large area, a bayed area, where prevailing winds will push that roe up to the beach and concentrate it.”

The onshore winds are pushing the foul smell further into the community, where tourists and residents alike are noticing it.

“No, I wouldn’t call it a nice smell,” said Blair Macphil, visiting from Delta. “It’s an earthy smell, I’d say.”

French Creek resident Kerry Pitt, who’s lived in the town for 50 years, says the smell is the one of the worst to come across his nostrils.

“On a bad day, it’s really bad. It’s rotten eggs, and it doesn’t really go away,” he said.

But not everyone is crying foul over the sewer-like smell.

The president of the Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce says the stench is actually attracting nature lovers to the region.

“The herring come, they spawn, they bring the eagles, they bring the seals, the sea lions, all of the bird life and of course the brant,” said Kim Burden. “One of the reasons that people come here is for that opportunity to get close to nature.”

For those who’ve had enough of the unpleasant smell, it’s only going to get worse.

As weather warms up in the town, the eggs will continue to decompose – and stink up their surroundings.

While spawning peaks in March, the repulsive scent is expected to linger until June.  

With a report from CTV Vancouver Island's Jessica Lepp