Selective fisheries, protecting endangered stocks… what a concept

The Province is reporting today a 3-day fishery for First Nations in the lower river.

First Nations will fish more sockeye

The First Nations fishery has been given another chance to catch its quota of Fraser River sockeye.

On Wednesday, natives from the mouth of the Fraser at Musqueam as far up the river as Hope were enjoying a three-day fishery, but had to promise to use only gear that won’t harm scarce migrating coho stocks.

“We’re using beach seines which gather up the salmon and make it easy for our fishermen to reach in and release the coho in the catch,” explained Sto: lo fisheries adviser Ernie Crey.

Crey said an anticipated 75,000 sockeye will be caught from Wednesday to Friday, bringing First Nations closer to their already-allocated 915,000 fish.

“Beach seines are regarded as a highly selective way of fishing,” said Crey, “Sockeye will be caught and kept, but both coho and steelhead . . . will be released back to the river.”

Conservative MP John Cummins a commercial fisherman, is of course, up in arms. There are some things I can agree with him on, such as some of the comments about the Cohen Commission and some of the choices of scientific advisers, and the focus on “science”. However, the comments in this article… could be a bit more productive if the media would just ignore them.

What’s the point? Yet the writer of this article gets a good dig in.

But that has Delta MP John Cummins fuming. “The commercial fleet hasn’t fished above Mission for 100 years and DFO [Department of Fisheries and Oceans] knows that. They’re just trying to find a way to let the natives catch fish that they will catch and sell illegally any way.”

The commercial fishing fleets have caught an estimated 11 million of the unexpected bounty of close to 35 million sockeye this year.

“But our guys haven’t fished well for years, I predict they won’t fish next year and may never get another fishery like this one again, and they’re just ordinary working people who depend on fishing for a living,” said Cummins. “There should be one law for all Canadians and instead, the Government of Canada seems determined to put the commercial fisherman out of business.”

I’m not sure if Mr. Cummins remembers this… ummm… you are a member of the Government of Canada…

Plus, come one, let’s compare the numbers. The commercial fleet is over 11 million, the First Nation fisheries are approaching 1 million. Historically, the First Nation fishery in B.C. is far less than 5% of the total catch — so let’s just try and keep those ginch from getting in a knot.

“one law”… well that’s not necessarily how the Constitution works for one — there is this thing called Sec. 35 rights.

Two, it’s a conservation issue (with great irony, the same word that sits at the route of Conservative). If the commercial fleet could utilize more selective gear that didn’t impact coho and steelhead then there would probably be more opportunities.

Simple really.

If we want to carry on about “One Law” then maybe Cummins should take that up with the commercial dragging and trawl fleet that operates off the coast catching anything and everything as well as destroying the sea floor — all under the support of DFO. What about conservation concerns out there?

5 thoughts on “Selective fisheries, protecting endangered stocks… what a concept

  1. Priscilla Judd

    Great post – thanks for pointing out the First Nation’s right to fish.

    A three day fishery – isn’t that what happened last year?
    I spoke with a young First Nation woman after last year’s three day fishery and she said that there was no advance notice for that opening and many families could not get organized to leave their homes and travel many miles to go their fishing spot. They went without – many people were hungry.
    Will they have enough to eat this year?

  2. Priscilla Judd

    I was told that our Government has historically and continually criminalize First Nation ability to harvest food. How sad is that? I’m part of this country – I’m glad you speak about this problem and do it so well.
    thanks

  3. salmon guy Post author

    thanks Priscilla,
    there is certainly a history of criminalizing First nation food harvesting, esp. fisheries — one book that present a great history is “Tangled Webs of History: Indians and the Law in Canada’s Pacific Coast Fisheries.” by Dianne Newell (University of Toronto Press). The history of canneries moving in and pushing First Nations out is a brutal one; however, it goes hand in hand with many of the other absurd policies of the day. Outlawing potlatches and other ceremonies, making it illegal for a First Nations person to hire a lawyer or have any legal representation, residential schools, creating the “reserve” system, and so on.

    Most of us would probably like to continue to live in a bubble and deny that these things still occur… sadly, not even close. In BC for example the Treaty process lags on, and on, and on, and on. Starting to approach 20 years now… and not a lot to show for it except a bunch of debt for First Nations and an entire “aboriginal industry” of lawyers based in Vancouver and Victoria and various consultants feeding at the trough of “technical support”.

    Add insult to injury, the Fisheries Minister goes and yanks Fisheries chapters off the table while the Cohen Commission is underway.

    For many folks… if there’s no salmon, they aren’t really a people (as I’ve had it explained it to me).

    Then this past week you hear the absolutely ridiculous comments of BC jr. mining minister Randy Hawes suggesting that the Prosperity Mine (Teztan Biny – Fish Lake) Project is a good thing for First Nation communities because ‘it will bring them out of abject poverty’ and ‘be a good thing for future generation of First Nation kids’.

    It is this continued colonial mentality that flies in the face of such things like “BC’s New Relationship” with First Nations. It appears that Mr. Hawes does not respect that the First Nation communities he references have elected leaders that represent their communities. Is the system perfect? far from it (however we can see how our Provincial system is not so great either, e.g. a governing party with about 12 per cent approval)… regardless it’s a government-recognized system that Mr. Hawes must respect. Running around spouting off about how he knows what is best for the communities of the Chilcotin plateau is not much different than the government policies that created residential schools…

    “New relationship” Mr Hawes? No, seems like a whole lot of the old one…

  4. priscilla judd

    Fish Lake is about Fraser Institute policy and meeting the needs of the New Global Government (the post ww2 Military Industrial Complex) that has designated Canada is a resource extraction country.
    As to your above comment – may I please re-post it on my blog?
    I am very concerned!

  5. salmon guy Post author

    Hi Priscilla, please feel free to use anything on this site.

    Curious that the Federal Government continues to remain ‘mum’ on the Fish Lake issue.

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