By Larry Pynn
29 March 2014
Vancouver (Vancouver Sun) – The federal government has chosen a remote stretch of B.C. coastline to square off against aboriginals in a fight over an imminent commercial roe-herring fishery.
Federal fisheries minister Gail Shea is being blamed for an escalating conflict over a forthcoming commercial gillnet fishery that has resulted in RCMP descending on B.C.’s central coast to guard against potential interference by Heiltsuk natives.
The Heiltsuk have issued a statement saying, “We will exercise our authority to stop any commercial herring activity in our territories. We will protect our aboriginal rights to the fullest extent possible should commercial fishers not abide by the ban.”
In an interview Thursday, Heiltsuk councillor Reg Moody said he appreciates that the police have a job to do and that no one wants to see anyone get hurt. But natives are also committed to protecting herring stocks in their traditional waters.
“It’s real,” he said of the prospect for confrontation. “If a gillnetter is going to put his net in the water, it’s gonna be easy for me to drop a tree in the water in its place. We could make it difficult … put trees in the areas where they plan to fish.”
Moody placed the responsibility for events squarely on the minister’s shoulders. “Our position has always been that we’re not unreasonable, but there has to be some fundamental changes made. It could have been avoided. We could work collectively.”
Shea, a P.E.I. MP, declined The Vancouver Sun’s request for an interview.
Federal fisheries spokesman Tom Robbins insisted that “the herring fishery is a legitimate fishery backed by solid fisheries science” and aboriginals have been consulted.
“We stand strongly against violence on the water,” Robbins said. “The department is monitoring the situation and will take appropriate enforcement action if there are any Fisheries Act violations.” […]
Three aboriginal groups along the B.C. coast have protested commercial herring-roe fisheries this season.
The Nuu-chah-nulth obtained a federal court injunction on 21 February 2014 blocking a commercial fishery on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The decision came after an internal memo revealed Shea overruled recommendations of scientists in her own department. Shea recommended opening the fishery in three disputed areas and in a hand-printed note alongside her signature wrote, “The minister agrees to an opening at a conservative 10-per-cent harvest rate for the 2014 fishing season.”
For every region on the coast, a “commercial cutoff” is established based on the health of herring stocks in that region. When stocks exceed the cutoff, commercial fishing is allowed at rates as high as 20 per cent of the biomass.
The Heiltsuk are asking the minister to add an 18,000-tonne “cushion” to that cutoff to help ensure sufficient stocks for aboriginals.
Natives plan to proceed with a 108-tonne spawn-on-kelp fishery this year on the central coast. Said McAllister: “It is a truly sustainable alternative to the industrial model that has killed herring stocks across the province.” [more]
By Captain Paul Watson
29 March 2014
(Facebook) – The Canadian government has already destroyed the scientific research archives on Fisheries. The Canadian Minister of Fisheries has ignored the advice of her own scientists and now they are opposing native communities all in the interest of supporting commercial fishing interests. Gail Shea the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is committing crimes against nature and humanity with her ignorance of ecological reality and her arrogance in wielding power unrestricted by reason or compassion. The native communities of British Columbia are the only guardians left to defend the fish from greed and destruction and Harper's government is intent upon crushing their spirit and their opposition.