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

Just Posted

Malicious Monster Truck Tour returns to Northwest

Crowds gathered at the airport for show

Terrace SAR rescues shopping carts in Skeena River

Many have yet to be retrieved due to high water level

Driver crashes into tree down Skeenaview embankment

A driver received minor injuries after crashing into a tree at the… Continue reading

Terrace Friendship Centre awarded $200,000 for MMIWG project

Project brings together Northwest communities to create long-term change, says executive director

Northern B.C.’s Ridley coal terminal sold, Canada divests, First Nations to own portion

Ten per cent of shares transferred to the Lax Kw’alaams Band and the Metlakatla First Nation

‘Bad choices make good stories’: Margaret Trudeau brings her show to Just for Laughs

Trudeau says over the decades she has been suicidal, manic, depressed

UPDATE: Youth seen with gun at Nanaimo mall, suspect now in custody

Woodgrove Centre shut down during police incident

B.C. man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Last known case of human rabies in B.C. was 16 years ago

Crown recommends up to two-year jail term for former Bountiful leader

Crown says sentence range should be 18 months to two years for Bountiful child removal case

B.C.-wide police efforts identify Vancouver Island robbery suspect

Warrant issued for arrest of North Vancouver man for TD Bank robbery

VIDEO: Wolf spotted swimming ashore on northern Vancouver Island

Island wolf population estimated at under 150 in 2008, says VI-Wilds

Diversity a Canadian strength, Trudeau says of Trump tweets at congresswomen

Trudeau avoided using Trump’s name when he was asked about the president’s Twitter comments

Garneau ‘disappointed’ in airlines’ move against new passenger bill of rights

New rules codified compensation for lost luggage, overbooked flights

Mercury tops out on top of the world: Alert in Nunavut warmer than Victoria

It’s the latest anomaly in what’s been a long, hot summer across the Arctic

Most Read