Gathering on the Fraser to foster mutual respect for fisheries

Frustrations of the fishing season well known to user groups on the Lower Fraser River this summer

An upcoming peaceful gathering on the Fraser River near Agassiz will feature speakers, ceremonies and a boatload of good will.

The Fraser River Peacemakers and Cheam Fishing Village officials are planning a ‘Gathering at the River’ on August 26, to promote harmony between local recreational anglers and First Nations fishing communities.

The key message is about the need to show mutual respect while fishing on the water — particularly during this especially lean and challenging summer season.

“Fraser River Peacemakers are encouraging aboriginal and non-aboriginal fishers to exercise courtesy to one another in the coming weeks,” said Ernie Crey, Peacemakers co-chair and chief of Cheam First Nation. “Doing so ensures the fishery is well-managed, the resource can be shared and all fishers are respected and remain safe.”

The frustrations of the 2019 fishing season are well known to user groups on the Lower Fraser River this summer who’ve been kept off the water by a series of closures and restrictions imposed on various fisheries.

“The chinook closures have impacted all sectors,” said Rod Clapton, president of the B.C. Federation of Drift Fishers, and a founding member of the Peacemakers. “The summer of 2019 has seen total closures of the lower Fraser River recreational salmon and trout fishing, resulting in tremendous economic losses to the local economies and loss of a valued Canadian heritage.”

First Nations food fisheries were also severely curtailed, creating significant hardship across Sto:lo territory.

“Salmon and steelhead stocks are at point of extreme conservation concern, which demands that all

fishers come together seeking solutions to rebuild and protect our fisheries,” Clapton said.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada officials imposed restrictions on commercial, recreational and First Nations harvest of chinook salmon in the Lower Fraser River tidal waters and non-tidal waters.

By August 15, the province had also closed the main stem of the Fraser above the Mission Bridge to trout fishing.

READ MORE: Mutual respect on the river required

Because of the Peacemakers’ efforts at opening the lines of communication, tensions have eased significantly between sportfishing and First Nations on the river.

But it wasn’t always this way.

Chehalis Chief Willie Charlie was shot in the face with a pellet gun back in 2009. It happened quickly in a fit of rage on the Fraser during a time of growing tensions. The chief’s fishing boat was rammed after their drift net and gear got tangled up with the fishing lines of a group of recreational anglers.

That violent confrontation ended up being the catalyst for the bold creation of the Fraser River Peacemakers, and the group’s leaders have spent the years since then working on conflict resolution, stewardship, river safety, and educating each other about their respective fisheries.

“We would hope that despite these current closures, the August 26 gathering on the river will demonstrate that our communities can come together to seek responsible joint initiatives that will lead to preserving these priceless resources for future generations,” Clapton added.

See more details regarding closures at the DFO website or about the trout fishery closure.

For more details about the Gathering at the River, email Ernie.Victor@stolonation.bc.ca

The Peacemakers show respect and avoid conflict by using good etiquette and sportsmanship on the water. The protocol for fishing is showcased in a River Manners video shot a few years ago, and it earned the group an award from the federal government.

READ MORE: Group of volunteers earns award for peace-making


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

OUR VIEW: Way too many Surrey COVID-19 cases

We all need to take this threat seriously

Horgan says Surrey mayor opened ‘hornets’ nest’ with Surrey policing transition

Surrey election battle heating up over Doug McCallum’s controversial cop transition

Semiahmoo Bottle Depot part of hybrid-electic compaction truck pilot program

Return-It launches program at 16 B.C. bottle depots with aim to reduce emissions

Horgan lambastes Liberal health record in Surrey

BCNDP leader attacks Andrew Wilkinson’s role in selling a potential hospital site here at a discount

OPINION: It’s Time for Surrey to be Heard

Which party will listen to Surrey voters?

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

Return-It depots change beverage container deposits from 20 to 10 cents

Change will be implemented on Oct. 1, with a transition period being held until Oct. 11

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

Young man assaulted, left for 12 hours until help called in Vancouver’s Strathcona Park

Vancouver police are looking to identify the victim as they investigate an assault on Monday evening

Boulders near Harrison vandalized with derogatory word

Vandalism likely occured between Sunday evening and Tuesday evening

Most Read