Gitxsan Nation extends fishing ban for non-Indigenous permit holders indefinitely . (Photo courtesy, Travis Murphy)

Gitxsan Nation extends fishing ban for non-Indigenous permit holders indefinitely . (Photo courtesy, Travis Murphy)

Gitxsan Nation extends ban for non-Indigenous fishing permit holders across their territory

The move comes after the province backed away from ongoing discussions with Gitxsan chiefs and DFO

Gitxsan chiefs say they are extending a ban on sportfishing on their traditional territories in northwestern B.C. in response to the provincial government backing away, after two years, of discussions on the future of the fishery on the Skeena River system.

They say permits issued by the provincial government hold no authority unless permission is first received from hereditary chiefs.

According to the Gitxsan chiefs, sportfishing breaks traditional laws.

“We do not play with our fish… we’ve come to understand that catch and release will cause higher fatality,” they said in the statement.

Trespassers will be asked to leave or seek proper permissions and failure to do so, say the chiefs, will mean confiscation of gear and boats although there was no clear indication of who would actually do that.

The Gitxsan Huwilp Government said that the no-trespass zones extend from Legate Creek eastward to Hazelton (90 miles), then from Hazelton northward to Ground Hog mountain, the head waters of the Skeena (200 miles). The watershed includes, Bulkley River, Kitwanga River, Gitsegukla River, Kispiox River, Babine River and the Nass River in the Nass watershed.

The proclaimed ban was first issued in May 2019 with the Gitxsan citing declining fish stocks and Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ mismanagement of fisheries along the Skeena River. Since then, the federal and provincial governments have been in talks with the chiefs.

But last month the province of B.C. left the discussions citing “capacity issues” and “lack of resources”,” said Gwiiiyeehl (Brian Williams), chair of Gigeeenix (Up River Chiefs).

The chiefs are asking B. C. to rethink the decision and return to the table to continue the dialogue in an “executive capacity.”

“It is irresponsible that in an era of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA), where the province cites an increasing commitment to reconciliation, that it would abandon the Gitxsan Huwilp Government in their efforts to self-govern according to their history, laws, and culture,” said Gwiiiyeehl.

“Issuing fishing permits is big business for B.C.’s economy and it seems that prioritizing respectful relationships and adhering to traditional First Nation laws is not on the top of the list,” said Chief Moolxhan (Norman Moore).

The chiefs also said that B.C. left the discussions one month after hereditary chiefs met with Nathan Cullen, the Stikine MLA who is now separating the forests, lands and natural resources ministry into two separate ministries so that forests will be a stand alone entity.

A request for a letter on how to work together to advance truth and reconciliation has been ignored by Cullen’s office, the chiefs say.

In an email statement, B.C.’s Forest Ministry said that the focus of Gitxsan crisis management team’s discussion – salmon harvest management – is a matter that fall under federal jurisdiction.

“We recognize salmon are a vital resource for Gitxsan and other First Nations and the province has a role to play in salmon habitat management,” said Ministry of Forest spokesperson, Tyler Hooper.

The ministry will continue to provide technical support to the crisis management team where discussion involves areas under provincial regulatory control, said Hooper.

Editor’s note: The story has been updated to include a response from the Ministry of Forest.

First NationsfishingSkeena river

Just Posted

Masset Habour Days will be from May 21 to 25 in 2021, in a family-friendly safe environment. A parade in 2018 was a highlight of a previous Harbour Days celebration. (File Photo)
Birds, boats and blooms are featured in 2021 Harbour Days

Community festival runs from May 21 to 25 in Masset

Kayak the humpback whale was found dead on a Haida Gwaii beach on Saturday, May 15, 2021. (Marine Education and Research Society)
Kayak the humpback whale found dead on Haida Gwaii beach

Whale was estimated to be only 18 years old

“Skeena,” by John Hudson and Paul Hanslow is one of five fonts in the running to become the default for Microsoft systems and Office programs. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Font named after Skeena River could become the next Microsoft default

One of the five new fonts will replace Calibri, which has been Microsoft’s default since 2007

A prowling coyote proved no match for a stray black cat who chased it out of a Port Moody parking lot Friday, May 14. (Twitter/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Little but fierce: Cat spotted chasing off coyote by Port Moody police

The black cat is seen jumping out from under a parked car and running the wild animal out of a vacant lot

Announced Tuesday, May 18 by Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, the province added gyms, dance and fitness studios to its list of places where face coverings are mandatory (AP/Steven Senne)
Masks now required at all times inside B.C. gyms, including during workouts

The province added gyms, dance and fitness studios to its list of places where face coverings are mandatory Tuesday

Reinhard “Bud” Loewen of Abbotsford has now been charged with 21 counts of sexual assault related to his massage business. (Facebook photo)
Former Abbotsford masseur now faces 21 counts of sexual assault

Bud Loewen of Bud’s Massage Therapy initally faced three charges

Over the years, police have worked with sketch artists to draw what the boys could have looked like at the times of their deaths. (Vancouver Police Department)
DNA breakthrough expected in cold case involving murdered Vancouver boys, 7 and 8

Forensic analysts are working to identify relatives of the children, whose bodies were found in Stanley Park in 1953

Livestock competitions have been part of the Pacific National Exhibiton for more than a century. (Maple Ridge News files)
B.C. provides $50 million to keep major tourist attractions going

Tour bus companies also eligible for latest COVID-19 aid

Derek Descoteau with his trusty dog Harvey. (Photo submitted)
Friends provide continuing comfort for family in wake of unresolved senseless B.C. murder

Case remains before the courts five years after Derek Descoteau’s abrupt stabbing death in Chemainus

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The top photo is of a real carbine rifle, while the bottom photo is the airsoft rifle seized from a Kelowna man on May 15. (Contributed)
RCMP issue warning: ‘Imitation firearms need to be dealt with responsibly’

A man brandishing his airsoft rifle in public had his weapon seized by Mounties on Saturday

Abbotsford Regional Hospital. (Black Press Media files)
Canada marks 25,000 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began

6 in every 10,000 Canadians died of COVID-19 since March 9, 2020

Most Read