Gitxsan Chiefs To Prohibit Skeena River Recreational Fishing in 2019

John Crawford
12/12/2018

A Gitxsan Hereditary Chief says a complete ban on Skeena River recreational fisheries within Gitxsan territories next year is the only way to help re-build fish stocks for future generations.

The Gitxsan Government announced the closure last week.

Catherine Blackstock (Sim'oo'git Geel) says a Crisis Management Team, established by the chiefs, will serve as advisors to the Gitxsan Government -- and the group is hoping to add representatives of commercial and recreational fishing sectors, as well as municipal and band councils.

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But she says drastic measures are necessary, since the Department of Fisheries and Oceans doesn't seem to understand that salmon returns are not strong enough to allow fishing to continue.

"Last year, DFO didn't think there was any harm and they continued on with the recreational fisheries, even though the numbers were really low -- so we're looking after it for future generations -- it's not just for us or about now, there's a lot of concern about the dwindling numbers -- and you look at the rivers that are so low right now," she said.

Blackstock says the Gitxsan are hoping to meet with Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson, as well as the DFO, in order to have both federal and provincial representation on the Crisis Management Team.

But the Hereditary Chiefs say in the meantime, the recreational closure is necessary to protect chinook, pink and coho salmon stocks. 

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