In January, numerous Tsimshian hereditary chiefs as well as chiefs from inland nations spanning the entire length of the Skeena River, signed the Lelu Island Declaration at the Salmon Nation Summit in Prince Rupert.
The declaration states that Lelu Island, and Flora and Agnew Banks, are “protected for all, as a refuge for wild salmon and marine resources.”
Grave concerns about the possible effects of a Petronas liquefied natural gas plant at Lelu Island are supported by peer-reviewed science. A keynote speaker at the summit was Jonathan Moore, Associate Professor of Aquatic Ecology and Conservation. Moore holds the Liber Ero Chair of Coastal Science and Management at Simon Fraser University. His research, supported by Lax Kw’alaams Fisheries, covered the periods of 2007 and 2013 in the Skeena estuary area slated for development.
Moore’s sampling showed that the eelgrass beds adjacent to Lelu Island are a critically important salmon habitat. In their delicate transition from freshwater to marine habitat, some salmon populations may use these areas for months.
The area acts as a funnel for hundreds of millions of juvenile salmon every year.
A broad range of genetic diversities was detected in the samples collected, with fish representing the Skeena, Nass, Stikine and Southeast Alaska watersheds, and coastal systems from the central and north coast watersheds.
In short, this relatively tiny stand of eelgrass supports nearly all the salmon in the Skeena.
This peer-reviewed science confirmed earlier research in 1975 that the area should be protected from industrial development.
The Skeena River and its salmon are vital to the health and well-being of our region.
North West Watch would like to publicly acknowledge our elected representatives – MLAs Robin Austin, Jennifer Rice, and Doug Donaldson, and MP Nathan Cullen, for their integrity and courageous stand in support of the Lelu Island Declaration.
North West Watch Society, and the Council of Canadians, Terrace B.C. Chapter, Terrace, B.C.