The Tsilhqot’in Nation is hoping emergency measures at the Big Bar Slide site will be escalated before a third season of salmon runs is disrupted.
“What we’re hoping to be done is to have better management to look at better outcomes,” says Xeni Gwet’in Chief Jimmy Lulua, “return in salmon stocks have been declining all over Canada.”
The Big Bar Landslide was discovered in June 2019. According to the Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG), Fraser River and Chilko salmon and steelhead trout have been returning in the lowest number on record since then.
“We’ve never seen this type of number before in our history,” Lulua says, “we’ve always had strong numbers.”
The TNG says they have elected over the past two seasons not to exercise their Aboriginal Right to harvest salmon due to their stewardship responsibilities and commitment to conservation.
Lulua says it’s a good attempt, but the return in numbers, 100 thousand is a low number. “You have to look at the bycatch that happens, the people who harvest, the commercial fisheries, the forest fisheries, First Nations, and there’s international catch as well,” Lulua says, “There’s a lot of factors at play here that need to be better managed, or we’re going to lose our salmon, and that affects everyone.”
The Tŝilhqot’in Nation says they are calling on BC and Canada to take immediate action to protect these iconic fisheries and the Indigenous peoples that depend on them for their way of life, and that Canada must close all downstream and marine fisheries which pose any impacts to the Chilko stocks, especially in the case of Chinook, Sockeye and Steelhead Trout, to give these struggling runs every chance at survival.