The Office of the Wet’suwet’en has issued a statement saying a fisherman who was caught on video clubbing salmon and kicking them back into the river at Witset has been dealt with.
The video surfaced on social media Monday evening creating outrage over disrespect for wildlife.
“Our leaders were alerted this morning of this incident and Office of the Wet’suwet’en staff along with a Hereditary Chief, spoke with the individual and have dealt with the matter in our traditional way, and we do not expect this matter to arise again,” said the statement released by Chief Na’Moks (John Ridsdale) yesterday.
Na’Moks told the Interior News the process involved a meeting between himself, the individual, his chief and Wet’suwet’en Fisheries staff in which an explanation was demanded.
He said the panel found the explanation given, that the fisherman was in a hurry, was “not sound” and the offender has been given instruction on respect for wildlife.
The fishery is currently focussed on coho and chinook, Na’Moks explained and the man may have misidentified pinks only to realize it after the fact.
“I hope you understand that this is a very rare occurance,” Na’Moks said. “We are taught to respect all animals. We need everyone to be accountable.”
As a further consequence, the individual in question will not be involved in the fishery for the remainder of the year.
“The fisherman and his chief are deeply sorry, and hope this matter can be laid to rest,” Na’Moks said in the media release.
It may not be over, however. The B.C. Conservation Officer Service (COS) in Smithers said the incident has been reported to them and they have an ongoing investigation open.
The COS would not give any details on the specific case, but said the regulations that would likely apply to the type of incident shown in the video are Section 33 of the Fishing (General) Regulations, which deals with returning incidental catch in the least harmful way; and Section 4 of the B.C. Sport Fishing Regulations, which states “no person shall molest or injure fish.”