Sto:lo aboriginal fishermen can catch sockeye salmon for food

Sto:lo sockeye catch can’t be sold

No deal this year authorizing commercial sale of member bands' salmon

Sto:lo Nation member bands can’t legally sell the sockeye salmon they catch in the lower Fraser River this summer.

The bands stretching from Pitt Meadows to Yale could have had an authorized commercial fishery – as happened in past years – but not enough of them were willing to sign a sales agreement with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).

Usually, when there’s enough inbound sockeye to open a regular commercial fishery, sales agreements letting aboriginal bands also profit from the fishery are almost automatic.

Without such a deal, the Sto:lo are supposed to fish only for food, social and ceremonial purposes and not sell any of their catch.

But the bands won’t have to submit to the more rigorous monitoring and enforcement by DFO that come with authorized sales.

Critics who have accused the Sto:lo of being behind widespread illegal salmon sales in the past doubt its fishermen will honour the rules.

B.C. Fishery Survival Coalition spokesman Phil Eidsvik pointed to the estimates of DFO investigators, entered in evidence at the Cohen Inquiry this spring, that more than 90 per cent of lower Fraser sockeye harvested under aboriginal food fisheries were being illegally sold.

DFO officials at the inquiry also warned that budget cuts are likely to further limit the department’s ability to bust illegal salmon sales and poaching.

“It’s fairly easy for the Sto:lo to walk away from a sales agreement because they know they can sell it illegally anyway,” Eidsvik said.

“It might be easier to sell more fish without a sales agreement than it is with one.”

Nor is he confident in DFO’s ability to police aboriginal fishing.

“They still don’t have the regulatory tools and support from their bosses to get control of this fishery.”

Eidsvik said he hopes the issue gets further airing before the Cohen commission, which examines aboriginal fishing again Aug. 19.

Sto:lo representatives could not be reached for comment.

An estimated 4.2 million sockeye salmon are currently believed to be returning to the Fraser.

That’s a relatively small run and the Sto:lo would likely have been allocated “very few” sockeye for sale had enough member bands signed on, said Les Jantz, DFO’s deputy area director for the B.C. Interior.

“They are just going to be fishing for food, social and ceremonial purposes,” he said. “If there are situations where fish are sold that would be illegal from that fishery and enforcement would be engaged to deal with that situation.”

A sales agreement is in effect with the Musqueam at the mouth of the Fraser and the Tsawwassen First Nation have a sockeye catch allocation under their treaty.

Surrey North Delta Leader

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

Just Posted

Claiming she has COVID-19, stranger coughs in Cloverdale woman’s face

Clayton Heights woman will now self-isolate for the next two weeks

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

APRIL 2: ‘Betrayal’ to shun self-isolation rules, special-needs families ‘in crisis mode’

Quarantined Surrey mom say pandemic has put special-needs families in ‘crisis mode’

Cloverdale’s Christine Williamson shares her family’s challenges, strengths

Police watchdog finds cops blameless for deaths in 2019 Surrey hostage-taking

Woman was killed as ERT officers fired on man holding a knife to her throat and ‘what appeared to be’ a gun in his hand

‘We don’t need this right now’: B.C. man breaks up road rage incident

Two men were throwing punches on Tillicum Road in Saanich on Vancouver Island

Migrant worker advocates blame feds, employers for COVID-19 outbreak at B.C. garden store

Migrant farm worker group calls on government for adequate health and safety requirements

Fraser Valley care home has two confirmed cases of COVID-19

Two residents at Mission’s Chartwell Cedarbrooke Retirement Residence have been diagnosed

‘There can be no ambiguity’: Travellers brought home to B.C. must self-isolate

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the mandatory isolation must be abided by

COVID-19 has been impacting Canadian economy since January

But full effects of pandemic won’t be known for months

Doctors trained abroad want to join front lines of COVID-19 fight in Canada

B.C. is looking to allow internationally trained doctors to work under the supervision of attending physicians

Fake test kits and other COVID online scams play on public anxiety: fraud centre

Vancouver has seen a spike in commercial property crimes, with offices and stores empty because of COVID-19

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

Most Read