Quinn Bender/Terrace Standard Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs Norman Moore (Molaxan), left, Robert Campbell (Niisgimiinuu) Robin Alexander (Gwisgyen) join other members of the Gitxsan Crisis Management Team in Terrace July 26.

Gitxsan salmon crisis team appeals for collaboration

Nation calls for extensive conservation measures that go beyond fishing closures

The Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs are calling for collaboration from all stakeholders in the Skeena Watershed to help them develop meaningful salmon conservation framework that goes beyond government closures.

On July 26 the chiefs that make up the Gitxsan Crisis Management Team made their appeal during a press conference in Terrace to announce the extension of a fishing ban within their traditional territories. The team vented frustration when invited representatives from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, B.C.’s Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources and the Sports Fishery Advisory Board did not attend.

“Can’t they make time? Who’s going to argue about fish when there’s nothing left to argue about,” says Chief Robert Campbell.

“Right now we want to see who wants to collaborate. Sports fishermen, other nations, federal government, B.C. government. We are trying to reach out to anybody who is willing to listen to us, to save our fish.”

The crisis team wants to hold at least one working-group meeting per month to map out shared objectives for the 2020 fishing season in the Skeena Watershed. They hope collaboration with all levels of government will result in new management directions, updated harvest allocations and priority enhancement and restoration projects to promote healthy river levels.

“A temporary fish ban by DFO is not solving the issue,” says Brian Williams, Chair of Gengeenix. “With impacts of development along our rivers such as highways, railways, agriculture, mines and clear cutting to name a few, these are additional external factors that play a role in declining fish stocks which have been continually deteriorating over the past century.”

In May this year the Hereditary Chiefs issued a fishing closure on all salmon-bearing waterways in their territory. On Friday they extended the closure for the 2020 season. But they caution closures, whether their own or formal action by DFO, do not address the underlying issues of low numbers and want the province to take appropriate action.

“We need a plan. We need the government to sit with us and come up with a plan to save our fish,” Campbell says.

The Hereditary Chiefs first announced fishing closures in 2017. Despite neither the province or federal government recognizing the bans, they say both recreational and First Nations fishers have largely honoured their wishes.

“There’s been no problems. People have been respecting what we say,” says Chief Norman Moore. “You see very little activity from the sports fishermen. It’s very nice to see that. Sometime we see elders going on the river but we can’t deny elders [food].”

Aside from that success in Gitxsan territory, Chief Campbell added the DFO’s allowance of a recreational fishery downstream still has deep impact on the entire watershed. “It’s not helping allowing them to fish past Kitsumkalum. We’re trying to get other nations to collaborate with us because it affects everybody, not just the Gitxsan. Everybody.

“The government has not listened to any of our concerns.”


 


quinn@terracestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Four air ambulance flights out of Terrace delayed or cancelled

Pandemic precautions caused nighttime closure of service station providing weather data to pilots

Skeena Resources, Tahltan prez excited by purchase of Eskay Creek

Skeena gets full control of mine, Barrick gets 12 per cent of Skeena and a one per cent royalty

Seabridge Gold starts drilling along proposed tunnel route north of Stewart

Twin tunnels will connect the KSM mine to its mill and tailings site

Mother grizzly bear with two cubs spotted on Gruchy’s Beach trail near Terrace

Conservation officers also warning public to stay away from Grizzlies on lower Kitimat River

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Most Read