(Lheidli T’enneh Territory, Prince George, BC – August 7, 2019)– The BC Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) is calling on Canada to issue a closure to all marine and recreational Fraser River salmon fishing due to the Big Bar Landslide near Lillooet. On June 21, 2019 a large land slide was discovered in a remote part of the Fraser River, which is considered one of the most sacred rivers for First Nations in BC and is considered one of the most productive salmon rivers in the world. First Nations in BC are extremely concerned about the landslide as it has blocked migrating salmon from returning to their spawning grounds. First Nations, including Tŝilhqot’in Nation and Nak’azdli Whut’en, located along the spawning route are declaring closures to the 2019 fishing season.
Salmon are sacred to all First Nations in BC. It is one of the most important resources for First Nations. First Nations are demanding that all recreational and commercial salmon fishing be immediately closed until the landslide can be cleared to give the salmon a chance to return to their spawning grounds. DFO is mismanaging the fishery and Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Wilkinson must recognize the emergency situation we are all in. Regional Chief Terry Teegee.
Even though this is a cause for conservation measures to help Fraser River salmon, many First Nations food, social and ceremonial fisheries are being restricted, at the same time the unregulated recreational and commercial fisheries are open – this contravenes the principle that conservation measures apply to all fishers.
First Nations cannot be restricted access to fish while commercial and recreational fishing is allowed to continue. We are very familiar with the collapse of the fishery on the east coast and all signs point to mismanagement by the federal government as well as their unwillingness to honour long standing treaties. The same appears to be happening with the west coast fishery. Regional Chief Roger Augustine
We are supportive of all First Nations access to salmon and aquatic resources for their food, social and ceremonial purposes. This is an inherent right protected by Section 35, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Crown cannot allow recreational and commercial fisheries to trump First Nations fisheries for their communities and Elders. This is a national emergency as it affects all parts life on the west coast. National Chief Perry Bellegarde
Recently, the Assembly of First Nation concluded their 40thAnnual General Assembly in Fredericton to discuss various issues of national importance, including fisheries. Regional Chiefs and hundreds of Chiefs from across Canada gathered to provide direction and support to the continued advocacy to promote the protection of First Nations inherent and Treaty rights.
Regional Chief Teegee is the Pacific lead for the AFN National Fisheries Committee, which is co-chaired by Regional Chief Roger Augustine (New Brunswick/Prince Edward Island).
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.
For further information contact: Regional Chief Terry Teegee Cell: (250)981-2151 or Annette Schroeter, Communications Officer, BC Assembly of First Nations. Phone: (250) 962-1603.