FNLC News Release: Fraser River First Nation Salmon Catch lower than expected

August 23, 2012

Coast Salish Territory (Vancouver, BC) – On Monday August 21, the latest assessment from the Pacific Salmon Commission's (PSC) Fraser River Panel showed numbers have not changed from last week when the total return was estimated to be about 2.3-million fish. Earlier assessments in August by the PSC indicated that the expected Aboriginal salmon catch was 746,900, but the troubling reality is that only 325,600 fish have been caught to date.

Chief Bob Chamberlin of Kwicksutaineuk/Ak-Kwa-Mish Tribes and Vice-President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs responded “The majority of First Nations in the Fraser River watershed fell far short of the mark in terms of the sockeye they hoped to catch to meet their most basic food, social and ceremonial needs. First Nations rely heavily on salmon throughout the winter months and this continued decline of sockeye is a direct reflection of the federal Department of Fisheries and Ocean’s (DFO) disgustingly disgraceful mismanagement that allow for ongoing and unfettered impacts to this absolutely critical source of food.”

BC Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) Regional Chief Jody Wilson-Raybould stated, “Salmon is vitally important to First Nations families and communities. The forecasted weak return has now been updated and amounts to less than half of the total allotted Aboriginal salmon catch that was expected.” She further stated “First Nations in BC continue to assert their collective rights to fish both in and outside of the courts and we must stand behind our Nations by working together to protect and preserve the wild populations that make this right to fish possible. The First Nations Leadership Council, in partnership with the First Nations Fisheries Council, is currently pursuing a Memorandum of Understanding with the DFO. The Pacific Salmon Commission’s assessment reminds us just how important this work is and what is on the line for our people.”

“The Fraser River salmon runs are intrinsic to the livelihood and cultures of First Nations along the coast of BC and through to the upper reaches of the Fraser River. The runs are so low and the mortality rate so high, First Nations like the Tlazten Nation are letting the fish go by so they can get to the spawning grounds,” said Chief Doug White, Snuneymuxw Chief and member of the First Nations Summit Task Group. “The Federal Government and DFO must take immediate steps to generously invest in the necessary scientific capacity and resources to ensure that a collapse of the salmon run such as what occurred in 2009 shall not happen again. We look forward to the release of what we anticipate to be a long list of recommendations from the Cohen Commission.”

For more information please contact:
Chief Bob Chamberlin
Union of BC Indian Chiefs

Chief Douglas White
First Nations Summit

Alyssa Melnyk
BC Assembly of First Nations

UBCIC is a NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.