Chinook stocks in the Fraser River will be exterminated if the on-going decline continues warns the Tsilhqot’in Nation. (April Bencze/Raincoast)

Chinook stocks in the Fraser River will be exterminated if the on-going decline continues warns the Tsilhqot’in Nation. (April Bencze/Raincoast)

Tsilhqot’in Nation demands meeting with feds on declining Fraser River chinook stocks

The Nation wants to partner with DFO to rebuild and recover the stocks

Six B.C. First Nations are calling for an immediate meeting with Canada’s Minister of Fisheries and Oceans as chinook stocks in the Fraser River near the brink of collapse.

Representing Tl’esqox (Toosey), Yunesit’in (Stone), Tl’etinqox (Anaham), Tŝideldel (Alexis Creek), ʔEsdilagh (Alexandria) and Xeni Gwet’in (Nemiah), the Tsilhqot’in Nation said while it welcomes the stronger restrictions on exploitation, they are not enough to reverse the population decline and mitigate extirpation risk facing Fraser River Chinook.

In decline for a number of years as a result of a variety of factors including habitat destruction, harvest and climate change, only one of the 13 wild Fraser River chinook salmon populations assessed is not at risk, DFO said.

Continuing this trend will result in the extermination of stocks which in turn will have devastating impacts on the Tsilhqot’in Nation’s food security and ability to exercise their rights and associated cultural practices, the Nation said.

Read More: Fraser River slide has ‘huge’ impact on community: Tl’etinqox chief

“Our Nation will not continue to stand by while these stocks decline towards extirpation, and with it the extinguishment of our rights and cultural practices,” Xeni Gwet’in Nits’ilʔin (Chief) Jimmy Lulua said in a news release.

“DFO needs to understand that as stewards of our territories, our priority is to recover these stocks to support a thriving fishery, as a central component of our cultural identity. We invite Minister Jordan to visit our nation and declared title lands this summer so that they may better understand the profound significance and cultural importance of this fishery.”

Fisheries management measures for 2020 to support the conservation of at risk Fraser River chinook populations while similar to 2019, have additional restrictions to strengthen conservation and some flexibility for additional fisheries for all harvesters in areas where impacts to stocks of concern will be very low, DFO said.

Read More: Ottawa announces ‘unprecedented action’ to protect Fraser River chinook

Commercial troll fisheries in Northern B.C.will require chinook non-retention until Aug. 15, 2020. The start of Vancouver Island’s troll fishery on the west coast will also be delayed until August 1.

DFO said a number of various management actions for recreational fisheries on West Coast Vancouver Island offshore, Johnstone Strait, Strait of Georgia and Juan de Fuca are in effect. Recreational management approaches to the Fraser River include the ban of salmon fishing until November 1, 2020 in subareas 29-6, 29-7, 29-9 to 29-17 and the non-tidal waters of the Fraser River from Mission Bridge to the confluence with Sawmill Creek. Recreational salmon fishing is closed year round in Freshwater Regions 3,5,7 and 8.

DFO said priority access will be provided for First nations Treaty and Food, Social and Ceremonial (FSC) harvest in South Coast marine waters and the Fraser River. It added very limited Fraser River FSC fisheries will be permitted into July to reduce encounters of at-risk Fraser chinook.

Read More: First Nations call for end to B.C. open-net salmon farms

The Tsilhqot’in Nation said alternative management actions are required and that they believe immediate steps must be taken to implement strategic emergency enhancement of key stocks.

As returns have continued to plummet to historic lows, the Nation has faced or implemented closures to their Chinook fishery and forfeited their Aboriginal right to harvest fish.

The Big Bar slide has further harmed their valuable stocks, with a loss of 87 per cent of early timed Chinook, and 50 per cent loss of their later timed stocks in 2019, the Nation noted.

Read More: ‘Almost complete loss’ of early salmon runs at Fraser River slide last year: DFO

Tl’esqox Nits’ilʔin (Chief) Francis Laceese said they have engaged the international community on the seriousness their Nation faces in terms of food security.

“DFO has left us no choice but to exhaust every avenue to ensure these stocks are rebuilt and recovered so that our people can continue to live off the land and waters as our people have since time immemorial,” he said in a news release.

“It is time for DFO to start matching their words to action, and work hand in hand with us to implement the actions needed for our stocks to recover and thrive.”

Black Press has reached out to DFO for further comment.


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
rebecca.dyok@wltribune.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

The welcome sign is the first thing new employees moving to Prince Rupert will see as they drive the road into the city. The ‘Prince Rupert - Make it Home’ employment campaign to draw people to the region was launched on Feb. 16. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Stakeholders respond to employee recruitment campaign housing ‘disconnect’

‘Prince Rupert -Make it Home’ is 5-year recruitment and retention campaign

More than 35 families received renoviction notices on Feb. 26, 2020 at Pinecrest Townhomes in Prince Rupert. (K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Renovictions will be tightened in proposed changes to renters laws

Rent freeze, and changes to procedures will benefit Prince Rupert tenants and landlords

Chloe and Koy are two participants in the talent show format of the 2021 annual Children's Fest to be broadcast on community television March 5th and 6th. ()Photo: supplied by Prince Rupert Special Event Society)
30th Annual Children’s Fest takes on a new format

2021 Prince Rupert Children’s Fest will feature a show of local talent

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Families on the North Coast will benefit from 70 new childcare spaces Ministry of Children and Family Development announced on March 1. Seen here are children from Growing Together Child Care Centre in Surrey. (Photo supplied by Jennifer Rice, MLA for Northcoast)
Northcoast families to benefit from new childcare spaces

62 Childcare spaces in Lax Kw’alaams and 8 in Haida Gwaii are part of Childcare BC New Spaces Fund

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Canada set to receive more than 6M COVID-19 vaccine dose than initially expected, by end of March

Beginning late Tuesday, anti-pipeline protesters blocked the intersection of Hastings Street and Clark Drive in Vancouver. (Instagram/Braidedwarriors)
Demonstrators block key access to Vancouver port over jail for pipeline protester

They group is protesting a 90-day jail sentence handed to a fellow anti-pipeline protester

Two Vancouver police officers were struck by a car when the driver learned he was being arrested for allegedly using a fraudulent credit card to pay for food. (Vancouver Police Department)
Driver being arrested for alleged food order fraud rams Vancouver police with car

Two officers are in stable condition, suffering with soft tissue injuries following the incident

A discarded blue surgical mask is shown hanging in a bush in Montreal, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
B.C. RMT suspended for not wearing a mask after confirmed by undercover clients

College of Massage Therapists has 5 open files, said suspension necessary to protect public

Accident rates, injury claims and court costs have driven ICBC into deficit in recent years. (Black Press Media)
Judge rejects taking lawyers out of minor ICBC injury cases

Ruling the latest setback for B.C. NDP’s insurance cost reforms

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Missing woman’s remains recovered after Vancouver Island boat fire

Remains of a 60-year-old woman recovered after Feb. 27 boat fire took her life

Most Read