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

Just Posted

Missing boy was dehydrated but in good health

The boy who went missing near Mackenzie was found to be somewhat… Continue reading

All Nations Driving Academy gets $360K boost from province

Terrace-based driving school bridges gap in services for remote northwest B.C. communities

Skeena Watershed reopened for recreational pink and coho

Four sections and tributaries remain closed

Skeena-Bulkley Valley candidates react to finding Trudeau broke ethics law

The election campaign is heating up before the writ has even dropped

Parking lot rework effort begins

Work is well underway on the Downtown Parking Lot Redevelopment Plan, which… Continue reading

Disney Plus to launch in Canada in November

Analysts say latest streaming service may escalate cord cutting

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

Okanagan bus driver assaulted for asking patron not to smoke

59-year-old in hospital with non-life threatening injuries

B.C. sets rules for ride hailing, same minimum fee as taxis

Larger operating areas seen as threat by cab companies

Two hiking families team up to extinguish fire in B.C. backcountry

Children and their parents worked for three hours to ensure safety of the popular hiking region

Vancouver man arrested after pregnant woman’s SUV stolen, then crashed

Police are recommending charges against a 22-year-old Vancouver man

Elections Canada to assess ‘partisan’ climate change rhetoric case by case

People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier has said climate change is not an emergency nor caused by human

Unseasonable snow forces campers out of northeastern B.C. provincial park

Storm brought as much as 35 centimetres of snow to the Fort Nelson, Muncho Lake Park-Stone Mountain Park

Most Read