Thursday, August 07, 2008

In-river commercial fishery

Lots of local folks have commented to us about the increased First Nations fishing activity on the Skeena recently, especially around Kitwanga.

This is part of the new DFO initiative to move some of the commercial fishery inland. It is an in-river First Nations commercial fishery taking advantage of the sockeye surplus. Occuring further inland and upriver than the 'marine' commercial fishery makes it more selective in nature. And by closing the Kitwanga rivermouth area they avoid the depressed Kitwanga river sockeye stock that stages in this area. Fishing upstream of Kitwanga also lessens the chances of impacting the depressed stock.
This fishery is also selective by the method of fishing; beach seines. Using beach seines allows the fishers to release non-target species with the least amount of harm. There must be some impacts to these methods, but they are far removed from the traditional gillnet sitting in an eddy for 24 hours of the old style fishing. Accounts from the fishery say the fish are handled in a very positive manner with good survival rates.
Reports from Kitwanga say up to 70 people are involved in the fishery, thus providing a good boost to the local economy.
This is something to keep an eye on in the future. The transfer of commercial effort from the marine (ocean) environment to up river sites will be an integral part of the new fishery management on Skeena. So long as it is selective in nature, well regulated, and well run.....this type of fishery has alot of benefits to it. Other First Nations in-river commercial fisheries occur up and down the Skeena at places like Kitselas, Kisgegas(lower Babine), and various traditional fishing sites on the mainstem.
Hopefully, we'll be exploring these more in future posts.


Steve Otto said...

Sounds very positive!

Anonymous said...

The fishery is not in keeping with traditional fishing methods and the consequences are devastating to the salmon and steelhead. Those involved do it because of the cash they earn, but of the record admit the waste is staggering.

Using seining nets is illegal for good reason; it does not discriminate when killing fish. Only the natives may do it, because its good politics, not because its good management.

Rivers upstream are suffering when the Tyee count should great numbers of fish, only to be decimated off the record.