Quinn Bender/Terrace Standard Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs Norman Moore (Molaxan), left, Robert Campbell (Niisgimiinuu) Robin Alexander (Gwisgyen) join other members of the Gitxsan Crisis Management Team in Terrace July 26.

Gitxsan salmon crisis team appeals for collaboration

Nation calls for extensive conservation measures that go beyond fishing closures

The Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs are calling for collaboration from all stakeholders in the Skeena Watershed to help them develop meaningful salmon conservation framework that goes beyond government closures.

On July 26 the chiefs that make up the Gitxsan Crisis Management Team made their appeal during a press conference in Terrace to announce the extension of a fishing ban within their traditional territories. The team vented frustration when invited representatives from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, B.C.’s Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources and the Sports Fishery Advisory Board did not attend.

“Can’t they make time? Who’s going to argue about fish when there’s nothing left to argue about,” says Chief Robert Campbell.

“Right now we want to see who wants to collaborate. Sports fishermen, other nations, federal government, B.C. government. We are trying to reach out to anybody who is willing to listen to us, to save our fish.”

The crisis team wants to hold at least one working-group meeting per month to map out shared objectives for the 2020 fishing season in the Skeena Watershed. They hope collaboration with all levels of government will result in new management directions, updated harvest allocations and priority enhancement and restoration projects to promote healthy river levels.

“A temporary fish ban by DFO is not solving the issue,” says Brian Williams, Chair of Gengeenix. “With impacts of development along our rivers such as highways, railways, agriculture, mines and clear cutting to name a few, these are additional external factors that play a role in declining fish stocks which have been continually deteriorating over the past century.”

In May this year the Hereditary Chiefs issued a fishing closure on all salmon-bearing waterways in their territory. On Friday they extended the closure for the 2020 season. But they caution closures, whether their own or formal action by DFO, do not address the underlying issues of low numbers and want the province to take appropriate action.

“We need a plan. We need the government to sit with us and come up with a plan to save our fish,” Campbell says.

The Hereditary Chiefs first announced fishing closures in 2017. Despite neither the province or federal government recognizing the bans, they say both recreational and First Nations fishers have largely honoured their wishes.

“There’s been no problems. People have been respecting what we say,” says Chief Norman Moore. “You see very little activity from the sports fishermen. It’s very nice to see that. Sometime we see elders going on the river but we can’t deny elders [food].”

Aside from that success in Gitxsan territory, Chief Campbell added the DFO’s allowance of a recreational fishery downstream still has deep impact on the entire watershed. “It’s not helping allowing them to fish past Kitsumkalum. We’re trying to get other nations to collaborate with us because it affects everybody, not just the Gitxsan. Everybody.

“The government has not listened to any of our concerns.”


 


quinn@terracestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tough year ahead for the aluminium industry

U.S. market is still Canada’s most important

Kitselas receive $1.2M boost for apprenticeship development program, open to Tsimshian and Haisla Nations

Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education announces $7.5M for six Indigenous training programs

PHOTOS: Heavy snowfall breaks window, causing avalanche into Northern Sentinel office

It was a chaotic start to the week for the Kitimat Northern Sentinel

B.C. premier talks forestry, service needs with handful of northern mayors in Prince George

Prince George meeting completes premier’s tour of Kitimat, Terrace, Fort St. James and Quesnel

Indigenous LNG supporters chide human rights advocates over pipeline comments

Coastal GasLink has signed agreements with 20 elected First Nation councils along the pipeline’s 670-kilometre path

VIDEO: Mass coronavirus quarantines seen in China won’t happen in Canada, authorities say

‘If a case comes here, and it is probably … it will still be business as normal’

Province’s oldest practising lawyer shares advice at her 100th birthday party

Firefighters bring Constance Isherwood a cake with 100 birthday candles

Vernon woman suing McDonald’s for spilled coffee

Woman seeking nearly $10K, says employee failed to put lid on properly

Diners’ health tax not catching on in B.C., restaurant group says

Small businesses look for options to cover employer health tax

B.C. comic wins judgment after club owner slaps cellphone out of his hands

Incident happened last summer when Garrett Clark was performing in Abbotsford

Mayors call for ‘calmness’ as highway rockslide cuts Tofino, Ucluelet off from supplies

Ministry of transportation expects to open road for “essential travel only” from noon-8 p.m. Friday.

Owner surrenders dog suffering from days-old gunshot wound to B.C. SPCA

The dog was also found to be emaciated and suffering from a flea infestation

B.C. man dies after police called for ‘firearms injury’ in rural Alberta

Victim is 30-year-old Greater Victoria man, say police

Most Read