Spring Chinook Salmon. (Michael Humling/ US Fish & Wildlife Service)

Recreational chinook openings leave First Nations frustrated on the Lower Fraser

Limited recreational openings for chinook on the Chehalis and Chilliwack rivers being questioned

Lack of respect for First Nations fisheries priorities by federal authorities has left members of the Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance frustrated.

That’s how recreational openings for chinook salmon on the Chehalis and Chilliwack rivers are being characterized by the LFFA, which serves 23 First Nations on the lower Fraser River.

First Nations communities have a right to priority fishing for Food, Social and Ceremonial (FSC) purposes protected under the constitution. Only conservation concerns take precedence.

“It was a bit of a shock,” Tribal Chief Tyrone McNeil said about the recreational openings.

First Nations on the Lower Fraser have so far had “very limited” access to FSC fishing to feed their communities.

“We have only been permitted three chinook when there’s a death in the community, so it was a big surprise to see fishing opportunities being opened for others in our territories,” McNeil said in an LFFA release.

Salmon fishing by the recreational sector is closed on the main stem of the Fraser River for the rest of the summer – except for those limited recreational fisheries on the Chehalis and Chilliwack rivers.

The recreational openings were announced as part of the DFO management plan for Fraser chinook on June 19.

At the same time, according to a DFO backgrounder: “Very limited Fraser River FSC fisheries will be permitted into July to reduce encounters of at-risk Fraser Chinook, with opportunities to target healthy Summer 4(1) Chinook in August,” according to a backgrounder.

DFO officials will be working with Fraser River First Nations on “specific fishing opportunities,” as well.

“The challenges facing at-risk Fraser River Chinook salmon stocks are multi-faceted. The road to recovery requires a long-term view and the collaboration of all interested parties,” according to the DFO release.

Chinook salmon have been in trouble for years due to habitat destruction, over-harvesting, and the effects of climate change.

“Working with First Nations and stakeholders, we are confident we are taking steps to ensure healthier Chinook stocks while maintaining a high degree of protection for endangered Fraser River Chinook,” the DFO release continued.

Of the 13 wild chinook populations in the Fraser, only one is not at risk.

“We do this every year,” said LFFA chair Ken Malloway. “After much consultation, we wait to hear about when we’ll be able to go and get our fish for ceremonies but all of a sudden we see sport fishers going out first instead.”

The situation has been exacerbated by the Big Bar landslide, which created a barrier that stymied migrating salmon.

FSC opportunities for sockeye salmon have been closed for two years now, Malloway said, and that – combined with the added economic and health pressures of the pandemic – means his community members are more anxious than ever to fish for food.

The LFFA has repeatedly expressed concerns about recreational fisheries on B.C.’s south coast marine areas, which have been open most of the year and allowed to target chinook salmon that might otherwise be Fraser-bound.

“Tensions are rising,” Malloway added. “If we don’t find a way to work better together, some nations may begin to authorize their own fisheries.”

READ MORE: Added restrictions part of chinook plan

READ MORE: First Nation wants meeting over declining chinook


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
jfeinberg@theprogress.com


@CHWKjourno
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

First Nationsfishing

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

Just Posted

Three men face attempted murder charges after Harrison Hot Springs stabbing

Man, 24, sent to hospital with life-threatening injuries following attack Wednesday

Four activists face charges linked to 2019 Abbotsford hog-farm protest

Mischief and break-and-enter charges laid for incidents on four separate days prior to the protest

Chilliwack children can get tested locally, Fraser Health confirms

Erroneous information online and via 811 has many families driving to Abbotsford for testing

New treatment centre for addicted youth opening in Chilliwack

Facility ready to support up to 20 youth with substance-use challenges

Delays expected eastbound on Highway 1 near Herrling Island after vehicle incident

Drive BC says their crews, and Emil Anderson Maintenance, are en route to the scene

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

Visitors and non-residents entering closed remote B.C. First Nation’s territories

With limited resources, they say they don’t have any authority or power to enforce the closures

UBC loses appeal on Fisheries Act convictions

BC Supreme Court upholds order to pay $1.55-million fine

‘Tiny home’ being built for Abbotsford woman with severe allergies

Online campaign raises $59,000 for custom cargo trailer for Katie Hobson

Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday

Acclaimed B.C. actor Brent Carver passes away

Carver, one of Canada’s greatest actors with a career spanning 40 years, passed away at home in Cranbrook

B.C. would not send students back to school if there was ‘overwhelming risk’: Horgan

Plan has left many parents across the province worried about their children’s safety

Canucks blank Wild 3-0, take series lead in penalty-filled NHL qualifying clash

Jacob Markstrom stops 27 shots to lead Vancouver past Minnesota

Most Read