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

Telkwa Coun. Matthew Monkman steps down

Village administration recommends late November, early December by-election

Council backs return of Smithers Steelheads

Town grants the club the arena concession, approves a beer garden and will pay for centre ice logo

Northwest couples compete at His and Hers golf tournament in Prince Rupert

Kitimat and Smithers couples take home the hardware

100 years since the surrender of Simon Gunanoot

The famed Gitsxan hunter was a fugitive for 13 years

Smithers celebrates National Indigenous Peoples Day

The day included dancing, singing, a moose call contest and a soapberry ice cream tutorial.

VIDEO: Killer whale steals fisherman’s catch off North Coast

Fishing duel results in eager orca snagging salmon in Prince Rupert

Fate of accused in Canadian couple’s 1987 killings in jury’s hands

William Talbott’s lawyer says DNA doesn’t prove murder

Child killed after being hit in driveway on Vancouver Island

The driver of the vehicle remained at the crash scene and is fully cooperating

Eating sandwiches, putting on makeup behind the wheel could land you a fine

RCMP say if you cause an accident while eating you could be penalized

Cat badly hurt in animal trap was likely stuck for days, B.C. owner says

Blu, a three-year-old house cat, suffered severe damage to his hind leg after being stuck in trap for days

40 cats surrendered in apparent hoarding at B.C. home

Officers found the cats living among piles of garbage and feces, suffering from fleas

Vancouver Aquarium drops cetacean ban lawsuit in new lease agreement

Ocean Wise CEO Lasse Gustavsson called the updated lease an exciting new chapter for the aquarium

Thieves steal two $40K chairs featuring gold serpents from B.C. furniture store

Chairs believed to be the only two of its kind in Canada, police said

Rising gas prices force B.C. residents to rethink summer road trips: poll

63 per cent of respondents reported gas prices are impacting their day-to-day finances

Most Read