After an unexpected surge in numbers of returning Lake Babine sockeye, the commercial fishery opens Aug. 11 in Fort Babine, with an opening in Tachet later this month.
Desiree Loyie is operations manager for Talok Fisheries, Lake Babine Nation’s community-owned fishing company.
“Last year, the fishery did not open because of low returns, and this year was predicted to be the same,” said Loyie. “This is not a huge run, from a historical perspective, but it is much larger than expected. We are thrilled.”
While scientists can not explain exactly why this years’ returns are higher than expected, the reason Talok and Lake Babine Nation can open the fishery is due to its location.
“Our fishery is a known-stock fishery, as opposed to the mixed-stock fisheries on the coast,” said Loyie. “Because we catch our fish inland, close to the streams where they were born, we know exactly which stock they come from.
“Along with the Lake Babine Nation Fisheries Department, we continually monitor the return; only harvesting sockeye that are surplus to spawning requirements. We manage our commercial fishery knowing our ancestors are looking over our shoulders and that we are accountable to future generations.”
The opening of the fishery generates much needed employment and income in communities with extremely high unemployment.
“When the fisheries open, Talok provides 15 to 75 jobs for community members. This makes a huge impact in this region. And just as importantly, it connects us to our roots. We had been harvesting salmon for literally thousands of years when our traditional fishery was banned in 1906.”
To help tell that story, Talok has worked with conservation group Watershed Watch Salmon Society to create a short video.
Public sales begin Friday noon at Ts’etselzi (Babine Counting Fence) and later in the month at Tachet near Granisle.