Eight First Nations are calling for a total closure of marine and freshwater recreational fisheries along the Skeena River watershed.
The Skeena Nations Fish Forum members say the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the BC government aren’t doing enough to protect Skeena salmon stocks in the face of dismal Chinook returns and an emerging crisis.
The DFO announced recreational closure along the Skeena River last month followed by a 25 to 30 percent reduction in exploitation rates for Chinook in North Coast marine waters, allowing recreational anglers one Chinook per day.
The Skeena Nations Fish Secretariat says that will only make things worse and allow for overfishing.
“We oppose the actions of DFO allowing the recreational fishery to harvest Chinook in this salmon crisis, and BC issuing guide outfitter permits and individual licenses to allow the recreational steelhead catch and release fishery to remain open,” stated Bruce Watkinson, Co-Chair of the Skeena Nations Fish Secretariat. “If Canada and BC are serious about their commitments to Indigenous Peoples, then the Skeena watershed and marine waters should be closed to all recreational salmon fishing for the 2018 season.”
The group says DFO’s actions are aimed to appease the recreational fishery but fail to live up to protecting the Skeena fishery and the interests of First Nations.
The Skeena Nations Fish Forum includes l the Gitga’at, Gitxaala, Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs, Kitselas, Kitsumkalum, Lake Babine, Metlakatla, and the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs.