Skeena River, salmon sign. (Jackie Lieuwen / Black Press)

Skeena First Nations push for full closure of recreational fishery

Eight First Nations on the Skeena River watershed say DFO’s chinook restrictions isn’t enough

A group of eight First Nations are pushing for a full closure of all recreational fisheries in the Skeena River Watershed, both freshwater and marine.

The group, part of the Skeena Nations Fisheries Fish Forum Protocol, said they oppose the recent actions by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the B.C government to allow some recreational fishing.

DFO temporarily closed recreational fishing May 8, and then on May 30 announced that there would be a 25-30 per cent reduction in exploitation rates for chinook this year due to conservation concerns. Recreational anglers are allowed to catch one chinook per day in marine waters near Prince Rupert, and Kitimat to Haida Gwaii.

READ MORE: Sweeping salmon closures for recreational fishing

READ MORE: DFO implements chinook restrictions

But the Skeena Nations Fish Forum released a press release today saying that’s not enough.

The Skeena First Nations Technical Committee requested that DFO close all freshwater and marine fisheries impacting Skeena Chinook, with no catch and release option, but DFO did not follow that recommendation, it says in the press release.

“We oppose the actions of DFO allowing the recreational fishery to harvest Chinook in this salmon crisis, and BC issuing guide outfitter permits and individual licenses to allow the recreational steelhead catch and release fishery to remain open,” said Bruce Watkinson, co-chair of the Skeena Nations Fish Secretariat.

“If Canada and B.C. are serious about their commitments to Indigenous peoples, then the Skeena watershed and marine waters should be closed to all recreational salmon fishing for the 2018 season.”

The release goes on to state that the DFO actions appease the recreational fishery but do not live up to its obligation to protect the Skeena fishery and the interests of First Nations.

“The Skeena Nations support conservation, however our Constitutional Aboriginal rights must be recognized and respected – to ensure this, we will engage in a collaborative process and dialogue with DFO and B.C.,” it said.

READ MORE: Salmon closures a devastating blow to businesses

First Nations’ signatories include leaders from Gitga’at, Gitxaala, Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs, Kitselas, Kitsumkalum, Lake Babine, Metlakatla, and the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs.


 


jackie@terracestandard.com

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