File photo

File photo

Gitxsan chiefs ‘close’ territory to recreational fishery

DFO will not enforce the conservation measure that rejects data from Tyee Test Fishery

Citing unreliable data from the Tyee Test Fishery, the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs are opposing the opening of recreational salmon fishing in the Skeena Watershed. In a press release Aug. 8 the chiefs said the fishery is ‘closed’ to all recreational salmon harvests.

“[We] view all fisheries data gathered from the Tyee Test Fishery as unreliable during the emerging salmon crisis that threatens all Skeena watershed salmon stocks,” the release stated.

Contacted by telephone, Hereditary Chief Cliff Sampare (Simogyat O’yee) said the Gitxsan feel the action is supported by the Supreme Court of Canada’s Delgamuukw Case, a ruling in part against the province to grant the Gitxsan aboriginal title on the land based on evidence of oral histories.

However because the Gitxsan are still in treaty negotiations, Sampare said the federal government feels justified to exclude the Gitxsan from meaningful involvement in natural resource decisions.

Anyone found fishing on Gitxsan territory, Sampare said, will be viewed as a trespasser and asked to leave.

“I’m telling the government right now, we have the legal authority to do this. We’re asserting our rights, our governance, our structure. We have a Supreme Court ruling that recognizes that; it’s the governments that don’t recognize it.

Last week the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) opened the recreational fishery Aug. 7 on many parts of the Skeena River and its tributaries to recreational sockeye, pink and coho fishing. The move followed pre-season fears that returns would be at record lows this year, falling far short of the 800,000 recreational threshold and even the First Nations fishery threshold of 600,000 — a self-imposed restriction up from DFO’s 400,000 target. The numbers from the Tyee Test Fishery, however, reached well over one million as of Aug. 1.

READ MORE: Recreational salmon fishing to open Aug. 7 on Skeena mainstem

A representative from the Tyee Test Fishery, which is operated by DFO, declined an interview request but deferred all queries to the DFO communications department.

In an email response to the Terrace Standard a DFO spokesperson said the Gitxsan action will not affect their decision to keep the fishery open.

“The Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs’ recent closure is not a DFO closure and will not be enforced by DFO fishery officers. However, anyone thinking of fishing in the area should be aware of the potential for conflict.”

Sampare stressed that their position is a non-violent action and hopes neighbouring First Nations, fishers and economic interests like tourism will join their opposition to the fishery.

For the past three years he claims 90 per cent of Gitxsan members have abstained from fishing until the numbers return.

“The Gitxsan governance is very strong with conservation,” Sampare said. “Sustainability is really important to us. When they opened up the recreational fishery, I thought, ‘Oh, my golly. There are major spawning grounds in our territory and if they keep opening it up to recreational fishing it’s gone.”

The Gitxsan announcement follows actions last June when the chiefs also forbade recreational fishing in Gitxsan territory, in which all fishers holding DFO recreational permits would be viewed as trespassers.

That declaration followed with seven other Skeena First Nations’ push for discussions with DFO and the province for the full closure of freshwater and marine recreational fisheries impacting Skeena chinook.

The group said DFO’s decision to allow for a chinook marine recreational fishery appeased the sporting community but did not live up to DFO’s obligation to protect the interests of First Nations.

As was the case then, the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs now appear to be acting alone with their intent to stop recreational salmon fishing in their territory.


 


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

FILE – Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have agreed to sign a memorandum on rights and title with B.C. and Ottawa, but elected chiefs are demanding it be called off over lack of consultation. (Thom Barker photo)
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, Lake Babine Nation get provincial funding for land, title rights

Government says it’s a new, flexible model for future agreements between Canada, B.C. and First Nations.

Kieran Christison, manager of Daybreak Farms in Terrace inspects eggs on Oct. 30, 2020. Christison wants to transition to a zero waste, cage-free facility. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Daybreak Farms aiming to achieve zero-waste, cage-free facility

Kieran Christison, manager, presented the farm’s future plans to Terrace city council

Mercedes Trigo, assistant manager, said that Trigo’s Lifestyle Store in Terrace has experienced four broken windows and an attempted break-in recently, leaving her feeling unsupported by bystanders and the police. (Ben Bogstie/Terrace Standard)
Trigo’s management frustrated by property damage, theft

In a little over a month there have been four broken windows and an attempted break-in at the store

Two RCMP officers have been recognized for their actions in responding to an incident involving a man with a weapon at 4501 Park Ave. on the afternoon of April 27, 2020. RCMP say it was an isolated incident and there is no danger to the general public. (Jake Wray photo)
Terrace RCMP officers recognized for acts of bravery

Two involved in arrest of armed suspect

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Since April 4, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Vancouver the largest source of domestic flights with COVID-19 cases: data

This month alone, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived

John Furlong, Own The Podium board chairman and former CEO of the Vancouver Olympics, addresses a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday November 25, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
John Furlong presents 2030 Winter Games vision to Vancouver Board of Trade

Vancouver and Whistler would remain among host sites because of 2010 sport venues still operational

Most Read