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Skeena First Nations Say DFO Fishing Plan Will Put BC Chinook Populations at Risk For Immediate Release June 1, 2018 Kispiox BC – Skeena First Nations are extremely disappointed by DFO’s 2018 management actions for the North Coast sport and commercial marine fisheries for Skeena & Nass River Chinook salmon, and all wild BC Chinook populations. They are urging DFO to change the 2018 Chinook Management Plan. The management actions announced yesterday by DFO are not precautionary enough to meet DFO’s own management objectives which are to support conservation and promote rebuilding of the Northern BC wild Chinook populations by reducing their overall exploitation rate by 25-35%. DFO’s management actions are not expected to reduce the exploitation rate on Northern Chinook by even the minimum objective of 25%, while requiring Skeena First Nations to limit their harvest of Chinook to numbers equal to the average between 2012 and 2016. Given that the Skeena sockeye forecast for 2018 is very low, this action by Canada means that our communities are at risk of not having sufficient food. This is unacceptable when non-First Nations fishers will still be allowed access to Skeena & Nass Chinook. More concerning is that marine sport fisheries on the North Coast have been allowed to exploit Skeena & Nass Chinook as usual until today and unofficial assessments of the fishery this year indicate that early-season effort has been much higher than what has been observed in past years. Skeena & Nass Chinook were certainly harvested during these early fisheries, but no data was collected, and this early-season harvest has not been accounted for in the decision-making leading to the management actions. We also want to point out that Canada’s actions are contrary to Canada’s Salmon Allocation Policy whereby the priority right to access salmon for food, social and ceremonial purposes is guaranteed to First Nations through section 35(1) of Canada’s Constitution and is only trumped by conservation. This priority right has been supported by many Court decisions since the ground-breaking Sparrow case of 1990. “How can we believe the Trudeau government’s statements about the importance of its relationship with Canada’s Indigenous peoples when it allows non-First Nations fishers to take salmon from our people? This is not just our battle; First Nations on the Fraser are also fighting for their priority access to Chinook.” said Charlie Muldon, Coordinator of Gitksan Watershed Authorities. In 2017 we voluntarily reduced the harvest of Skeena Chinook to promote conservation of the stocks. We will again ensure that our harvest of Skeena sockeye and Chinook in 2018 will not compromise the conservation of the wild component of these stocks. Considering this, we advised DFO to take a more precautionary set of management actions for the conservation of Northern BC Chinook. The set of management actions we presented to DFO were expected to result in a 30% reduction in exploitation rate on Skeena Chinook, while allowing us to harvest a reasonable number of fish, still well short of fulfilling our Food, Social and Ceremonial needs. Unfortunately, DFO rejected our proposal. Walter Joseph of the Office of the Wet’suwet’en said “The Wet’suwet’en have decided to conserve Chinook since we really don’t have a choice. Sockeye has been a problem for a long time due to DFO’s mismanagement of the Bulkley/Morice stocks. The Wet’suwet’en are running out of options for food fish.” We urge DFO and the Government of Canada to review their decision regarding the 2018 Northern Chinook management if they are serious about supporting conservation and promoting rebuilding of BC wild salmon populations as well as improving relations with Skeena First Nations. For further Comment: Charlie Muldon Coordinator Gitksan Watershed Authorities 778-202-1458 Robert Grodecki Executive Director North Coast Skeena First Nations Stewardship Society cell: 250-600-7770 office: 250-624-8614 ext 2005

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