Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen. (File photo)

Cullen demands action on Ecstall River

Failing to penalize parties involved undermines all salmon conservation efforts, MP says

Nathan Cullen is calling for “clear and swift action” against those involved in the Ecstall River fishing controversy. In a press release May 14 the Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP issued the statement following a Terrace Standard report on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans closing their investigation without laying charges or closing loopholes to prevent a similar infraction from occurring again.

“The DFO needs to take action to penalize those involved and ensure the rules are followed by everyone, including wealthy Americans,” Cullen said.

READ MORE: Anglers furious over VIP fishing trip

The investigation was triggered last summer when the Komoham Lodge negotiated the use of a First Nations communal fishing licence from the Lax-Kw’alaams band. The lodge’s wealthy, high-profile U.S. guests were caught by DFO on the Ecstall River, a lower tributary of the Skeena, fishing for chinook during recreational fishing closures.

Lodge management said the excursion was scientific in nature with DFO support behind it, but DFO denied knowledge of the exercise.

“The DFO needs to be crystal clear that this will not occur again and that they will be closing loopholes that were used to bypass conservation and Indigenous access programs,” Cullen said.

“We cannot let foreign commercial interests come before protecting wild salmon stocks, especially when all other user groups and First Nations are pitching in and taking on that burden.”

Cullen says he’s sent two letters to DFO on the matter but has yet to receive a reply. He’s requesting a response that will restore confidence that conservation efforts among area residents are not in vain.

The angling community worries the incident has already set a precedent, where conservation measures can be ignored at the right price.

News of the investigation’s conclusion surfaced at a meeting for the Lower Skeena Sport Fishing Advisory Committee March 12. According to the minutes, an attending DFO officer said the file is closed, as the angling was in fact legally permitted through the Aboriginal Food Social and Ceremonial communal license.

READ MORE: No charges laid in VIP fishing trip to Ecstall River, anglers told

It was noted future communal licenses could be written differently so similar incidents don’t occur in the future. But DFO did not confirm with the Terrace Standard whether the investigation is formally closed. In a vaguely-worded email a spokesperson said the matter was still in discussion on some level.

“Fishery officers from the Conservation and Protection Program continue to work with our internal and external partners to provide clarity and information regarding this situation to all concerned,” the email read.

“The objective is to ensure that a full understanding of the intent and communication requirements [of communal licences] is reached with all.”


 


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

District of Stewart receives funding for food security

Stewart is one of 54 B.C. municipalities to split $1.4 million

Scientists produce extensive map of Tseax Volcano, lava flow

Volcano had been studied previously, but never in such detail

Skeena MLA advocates for small LNG project in Terrace

Many questions unanswered about project, say opponents

B.C. government eyes antlerless moose harvest increase in bid to save caribou

Antlerless moose hunts reduce predation for threatened mountain caribou, says ministry

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

Facing changes together: your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

B.C. ranchers, lodge operators say Indigenous land title shuts them out

Tsilhqot’in jurisdiction affects grazing, access to private property

As two B.C. offices see outbreaks, Dr. Henry warns tests don’t replace other measures

Physical distancing, PPE and sanitizing remain key to reduce COVID-19 spread

Greater Victoria drive-thru window smashed after man receives burger without mustard

Greater Victoria Wendy’s staff call police after man allegedly rips Plexiglas barrier off window

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Murder charge upgraded in George Floyd case, 3 other cops charged

Floyd’s family and protesters have repeatedly called for criminal charges against all four officers

Young killer whale untangles itself from trap line off Nanaimo shore

DFO marine mammal rescue unit was en route as whale broke free from prawn trap line

Racist incident shocks Vancouver Island First Nation

Port Alberni RCMP investigating after video shows truck wheeling through Tseshaht territory

Most Read