Members of the Heiltsuk Nation say they’ve locked down the Department of Fisheries and Oceans office near Bella Bella as the dispute over the commercial herring fishery continues on the central coast.
A news release issued by the First Nation says up to 50 Heiltsuk members, including Chief Councillor Marilyn Slett, are refusing to let anyone into the office until the DFO calls off the planned fishery.
The Heiltsuk have warned that herring numbers are too low to support the planned gillnet herring fishery.
“DFO has failed to honour our no-go zones. They say they hear our concerns, but their actions say otherwise,” says Kelly Brown, Director of the Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Department. “Despite the fact that only half of the 32,000 tons of herring that DFO predicted would be here this year have detected, they remain intent on opening this fishery despite our stated concerns and opposition. “
Tribal Councillor Reg Moody says the Heiltsuk will take the battle to the waters if they cannot achieve protection of herring stocks through discussion.
The Heiltsuk occupation of the DFO office began Sunday night after failed talks with the DFO’s Regional Director.