Gitxsan Nation extends fishing ban for non-Indigenous permit holders indefinitely . (Photo courtesy, Travis Murphy)

Gitxsan Nation extends fishing ban for non-Indigenous permit holders indefinitely . (Photo courtesy, Travis Murphy)

Gitxsan Nation extends ban for non-Indigenous fishing permit holders across their territory

The move comes after the province backed away from ongoing discussions with Gitxsan chiefs and DFO

Gitxsan chiefs say they are extending a ban on sportfishing on their traditional territories in northwestern B.C. in response to the provincial government backing away, after two years, of discussions on the future of the fishery on the Skeena River system.

They say permits issued by the provincial government hold no authority unless permission is first received from hereditary chiefs.

According to the Gitxsan chiefs, sportfishing breaks traditional laws.

“We do not play with our fish… we’ve come to understand that catch and release will cause higher fatality,” they said in the statement.

Trespassers will be asked to leave or seek proper permissions and failure to do so, say the chiefs, will mean confiscation of gear and boats although there was no clear indication of who would actually do that.

The Gitxsan Huwilp Government said that the no-trespass zones extend from Legate Creek eastward to Hazelton (90 miles), then from Hazelton northward to Ground Hog mountain, the head waters of the Skeena (200 miles). The watershed includes, Bulkley River, Kitwanga River, Gitsegukla River, Kispiox River, Babine River and the Nass River in the Nass watershed.

The proclaimed ban was first issued in May 2019 with the Gitxsan citing declining fish stocks and Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ mismanagement of fisheries along the Skeena River. Since then, the federal and provincial governments have been in talks with the chiefs.

But last month the province of B.C. left the discussions citing “capacity issues” and “lack of resources”,” said Gwiiiyeehl (Brian Williams), chair of Gigeeenix (Up River Chiefs).

The chiefs are asking B. C. to rethink the decision and return to the table to continue the dialogue in an “executive capacity.”

“It is irresponsible that in an era of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA), where the province cites an increasing commitment to reconciliation, that it would abandon the Gitxsan Huwilp Government in their efforts to self-govern according to their history, laws, and culture,” said Gwiiiyeehl.

“Issuing fishing permits is big business for B.C.’s economy and it seems that prioritizing respectful relationships and adhering to traditional First Nation laws is not on the top of the list,” said Chief Moolxhan (Norman Moore).

The chiefs also said that B.C. left the discussions one month after hereditary chiefs met with Nathan Cullen, the Stikine MLA who is now separating the forests, lands and natural resources ministry into two separate ministries so that forests will be a stand alone entity.

A request for a letter on how to work together to advance truth and reconciliation has been ignored by Cullen’s office, the chiefs say.

In an email statement, B.C.’s Forest Ministry said that the focus of Gitxsan crisis management team’s discussion – salmon harvest management – is a matter that fall under federal jurisdiction.

“We recognize salmon are a vital resource for Gitxsan and other First Nations and the province has a role to play in salmon habitat management,” said Ministry of Forest spokesperson, Tyler Hooper.

The ministry will continue to provide technical support to the crisis management team where discussion involves areas under provincial regulatory control, said Hooper.

Editor’s note: The story has been updated to include a response from the Ministry of Forest.

First NationsfishingSkeena river

Just Posted

Burns Lake local Wren Gilgan, captured this Bear family after their winter snooze in the woods near the community. (Wren Gilgan photo/Lakes District News)
Bear-attractant management, a province-wide priority

Black bears awake from winter slumber

LDSS students working on creating bike racks during the metals class. (Blaine Hastings photo/Lakes District News)
LDSS students building bike racks

The Lakes District Secondary School’s (LDSS) metal class taught by Blaine Hastings… Continue reading

Vaccine. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)
Register on Get Vaccinated site for second dose

Health officials urging everyone, including those with first dose to register

Boil water advisory. (File photo)
Wet’suwet’en First Nation’s long-term boil water advisory lifted

The province has no long-term water advisories in place

The Lakes District Fall fair has been cancelled second time in a row. (Lakes District News file photo)
Here’s why the Lakes District Fall Fair was cancelled

The association hoping to hold the fair in 2022

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Most Read