Sto:lo aboriginal fishermen can catch sockeye salmon for food

Sto:lo sockeye catch can’t be sold

No deal this year authorizing commercial sale of member bands' salmon

Sto:lo Nation member bands can’t legally sell the sockeye salmon they catch in the lower Fraser River this summer.

The bands stretching from Pitt Meadows to Yale could have had an authorized commercial fishery – as happened in past years – but not enough of them were willing to sign a sales agreement with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).

Usually, when there’s enough inbound sockeye to open a regular commercial fishery, sales agreements letting aboriginal bands also profit from the fishery are almost automatic.

Without such a deal, the Sto:lo are supposed to fish only for food, social and ceremonial purposes and not sell any of their catch.

But the bands won’t have to submit to the more rigorous monitoring and enforcement by DFO that come with authorized sales.

Critics who have accused the Sto:lo of being behind widespread illegal salmon sales in the past doubt its fishermen will honour the rules.

B.C. Fishery Survival Coalition spokesman Phil Eidsvik pointed to the estimates of DFO investigators, entered in evidence at the Cohen Inquiry this spring, that more than 90 per cent of lower Fraser sockeye harvested under aboriginal food fisheries were being illegally sold.

DFO officials at the inquiry also warned that budget cuts are likely to further limit the department’s ability to bust illegal salmon sales and poaching.

“It’s fairly easy for the Sto:lo to walk away from a sales agreement because they know they can sell it illegally anyway,” Eidsvik said.

“It might be easier to sell more fish without a sales agreement than it is with one.”

Nor is he confident in DFO’s ability to police aboriginal fishing.

“They still don’t have the regulatory tools and support from their bosses to get control of this fishery.”

Eidsvik said he hopes the issue gets further airing before the Cohen commission, which examines aboriginal fishing again Aug. 19.

Sto:lo representatives could not be reached for comment.

An estimated 4.2 million sockeye salmon are currently believed to be returning to the Fraser.

That’s a relatively small run and the Sto:lo would likely have been allocated “very few” sockeye for sale had enough member bands signed on, said Les Jantz, DFO’s deputy area director for the B.C. Interior.

“They are just going to be fishing for food, social and ceremonial purposes,” he said. “If there are situations where fish are sold that would be illegal from that fishery and enforcement would be engaged to deal with that situation.”

A sales agreement is in effect with the Musqueam at the mouth of the Fraser and the Tsawwassen First Nation have a sockeye catch allocation under their treaty.

Just Posted

Train ride at Minter store not part of this year’s festive fun

Tough decision made to stop seasonal train in its tracks after injury suffered by Brian Minter

Players Guild challenges Chilliwack residents to solve classic Agatha Christie whodunit mystery

The Chilliwack Players Guild is performing Murder on the Nile from Nov. 22 to Dec. 2

Chilliwack students learn about business and charity during entrepreneurship fair

Mt. Slesse Grade 8 kids will be donating 20 per cent of their business profits to the food bank

Work wrapping up in Chilliwack on the Valley Rail Trail expansion

The trail is envisioned as the north-south spine of a future cycling network

Chilliwack saw sub-tropical blast of warm air Wednesday

It didn’t break any official records but it was warmer than usual by several degrees

VIDEO: Stan Lee leaves posthumous message for his fans

Marvel Comics’ co-creator died on Monday at the age of 95

Deer carcasses don’t belong in green bins, says B.C. city

City of Nanaimo issues reminder to residents, saying fur isn’t compostable

B.C. couple helping wildfire evacuees in northern California

A planned holiday has turned into a humanitarian effort for a Penticton couple

Dead whale discovered on B.C. shore

The whale was discovered Friday morning near the BC Ferries terminal

‘This is gangster,’ bait car thief declares on video

Footage from Abbotsford gains attention on social media

Parents skeptical as Abbotsford school fills French immersion vacancy

School district says new teacher will start Dec. 1 closing vacancy currently filled by English teacher

B.C. to offer gender-affirming surgeries for transgender people

Roughly 100 people in B.C. travel each year out of province for lower surgeries

U.S. mayor and dying dog’s roadtrip to B.C. goes viral

First vacation in three years came a month after blood cancer diagnosis

Federal fall update expected to offer more support for struggling news industry

Ottawa committed $50 million over five years for local journalism in ‘underserved communities’ last budget

Most Read