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

Month-long water quality advisory still in effect for Rupert residents

The City of Prince Rupert recommends those with weakened immune systems boil water prior to use

Jennifer Rice North Coast MLA seeks re-election

Northwest politicians announce intent on elections

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

Heart of the City – Jason Scherr

Try and Try again - Prince Rupert Seamen Rugby Club

No COVID-19 public exposures in the North Health Region at this time

Northern Health Authority issued a statement on Sept. 17

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Application deadline for fish harvester benefits program extended

Those financially impacted by the pandemic have until Oct. 5 to apply

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

Most Read