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Gitxsan Nation issues fishing ban notice, waters ministry refutes it

Season closed according to Gitxsan, feds disagree
Gitxsan Nation issues fishing ban for 2024 season. (Photo courtesy Travis Murphy)

The Gitxsan Nation has issued a fishing ban notice for the 2024 season, but provincial Ministry of Water, Land and Natural Resource Stewardship (WLNRS) rejects the notice.  

The notice states that fishing is 100 per cent banned in the Babine, Bulkley, Nass, Kispiox and Skeena Rivers on Gitsxan lands. The main reason for banning recreational fishing was due to low waters because over-exposed spawning beds create overkill of stocks.

It also noted that catch and release runs contrary to Gitxsan law because it is "playing with fish" and fish are a food staple for Gitxsan people.  

"Provincial fishing permits do not allow access to Gitxsan anaat (traditional fishing grounds) or laxyip (lands)," the notice states. "We kindly request you check your maps."

WLNRS followed up on the ban notice with a letter on June 7 stating recreational fishing is open in the Skeena River watershed. It also notes communities will be notified if in-season closures are necessary due to drought or low fish population this season.  

It said the ministry shares the concerns of the Gitxsan and other communities about the drought conditions and potential impacts, but that salmon and salmon and steelhead are "important to B.C.'s economy, communities and wildlife." 

It said the provincial fishing regulations were developed in consultation with First Nations and public and stakeholder engagement.

"We continue to work with the Gitxsan Laxyip Management Office to implement the Gitxsan Watershed Strategic Engagement Agreement," the letter said.

About the Author: Emma Bolzner

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