BC's Minister of Water, Land, and Resource Stewardship recently released a statement  on recreational fishing in the Skeena River. 

As salmon stocks have struggled across the province in past years - restrictions have become more contentious and nuanced.

Recently, a notice went out from the Gitxsan Huwilp government, declaring a ban on fishing in the Babine, Bulkley, Nass, Kispiox, and Skeena rivers on Gitxsan lands in the 2024 season.

They cited low waters and exposed spawning beds killing fishing stocks as one of the main reasons for the proclaimed closure.

But a recent statement from Nathan Cullen, Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship, refuted the blanket ban declared by the Gitxsan government. 

Cullen said that although the BC Government is also concerned about the effect of drought conditions on salmon and steelhead, ultimately recreational fishing does remain open in the Skeena River Watershed.

He says, should the province determine in-season closures are needed due to low fish population returns or drought conditions, impacted communities will be notified. 

This is not the first time the Gitxsan government has showed concern over fishing numbers -  in 2021, they released a similar ban, which was responded to by the government in a similar way to the present ban.

In 2022, they released a joint statement between the Gitxsan, Gitanyow, and Wet'suwet'en First Nations, calling on Canadian officials to do something about Canadian-bound salmon being intercepted in Alaska, before they can make it to Canadian waters. 

This came following the Skeena Wild Conservation Society's 2022 report estimating that up to 75 percent of the 800,00 sockeye harvested in Southeast Alaska in 2022 were bound for BC's North Coast rivers, including the Skeena and Nass, before they were intercepted. This is believed to have a massive negative effect on fishing stocks.

In Minister Cullen's recent statement, he says they have technical tables with the Gitxsan in place to resolve the fisheries management issues.