Fraser Cheam Native Band wants to keep all others off "Their" river

5 08 2005

The Cheam/Sto:Lo want all the sockeye for their “Food and Ceremonial Fishery“ without us recreational fishermen “getting in the way“

If this fishery is only for food and ceremonial purposes, why are there natives driving around offering Sockeye out of the cooler in a pickup for $10/fish????  This is ridiculous.  They are openly breaking the law, while catching, killing and selling a part of the sockeye run that is endangered (which is the reason why it’s closed to commercial and recreational)..Stewards of the Environment…Hah!

If people had cameras, then pictures would go a long way too!  We need to shove this in the faces of the top DFO/ministers and say “Look!  They’re SELLING the freakin’ fish – NOT eating them!!!!!!”

From the Globe and Mail:

I’m going to reprint the entire article here because it’s important that as many people as possible read about it!



Thursday, August 4, 2005 Page S1

VANCOUVER — A native band has been handing shocked sports anglers on the Fraser River a statement of claim that names the fishermen as “John Doe and Jane Doe” in a court action that will attempt to ban thousands of recreational fishermen from the water.

“This is a serious matter. They want all non-aboriginal fishermen off the river. They want an exclusive fishery,” said Phil Eidsvik of the B.C. Fisheries Survival Coalition.

The Cheam is a small band with about 300 members who fish mainly on the Fraser near the Agassiz-Rosedale bridge, about 80 kilometres east of Vancouver. The band is going to the B.C. Supreme Court to seek an injunction against “John Doe and Jane Doe prohibiting them from carrying out the 2005 Sports Fishery . . . without the permission or consent of Cheam.”

The development is expected to exacerbate an already tense situation on the river that one native spokesman has described as “dangerous.”

On any given day during the summer, up to 1,500 sports anglers can be found fishing for salmon on the lower Fraser River as it winds through the Fraser Valley after emerging from the Coast Range near Hope. One of the most popular spots to fish is along gravel bars above and below the Agassiz-Rosedale bridge.

“In the past day or two, fishermen on the bars near the bridge have had native guys tell them to leave, and when they refused they have had these papers shoved in their hands,” said Frank Kwak, a member of the B.C. Federation of Drift Fishers.

“One fisherman was told, ‘From here on in you will be paying us to fish here’.”

Mr. Kwak said the development is disturbing. His group and the B.C. Fisheries Survival Coalition plan to fight the application when it goes to court. It is expected to be heard in Victoria this week.

In the past, sports anglers and aboriginal fishermen have clashed on the river bars near the bridge. There have been reports of fishermen hurling insults — and rocks — at one another, but this summer has been largely free of conflict due, in part, to a peacekeeping effort that has been under way for several weeks.

Bill Otway, a member of the Sport Fishing Defence Alliance, said chiefs from several bands and representatives of sports anglers have been holding meetings trying to develop a dialogue. But he said the threatened legal action of the Cheam is a blow to that process — and it threatens to spark more clashes between sports anglers and aboriginal fishermen.

“We are telling our guys to be cool and to be courteous because we think what the Cheam really want is to trigger conflict so they can say, ‘see, we need [sports anglers] banned.’ ”

Mr. Otway wasn’t aware of any conflict during the time natives were legally allowed to fish, but he said harsh words get exchanged when sports anglers witness natives fishing in closed periods.

“Nobody that I’m aware of has ever come into conflict with natives over legitimate fisheries,” he said. “If they are coming through with drift nets they usually just ask guys to move, and they will pull their lines and let the nets go through. It’s not a big deal usually.”

Mr. Otway said the Cheam, who are one of 19 Sto:lo bands on the Fraser River, have long sought control of the popular and productive waters in the Agassiz-Rosedale area.

“This is just the start,” said Mr. Otway, who warned that if the Cheam are granted an injunction, other bands could follow.

In the statement of claim, Chief Douglas says his band “exclusively occupied the islands, bars, beaches and banks on the Fraser River . . . and exercised exclusive control, in accordance with the customs, traditions and laws of the Central Coast Salish over the fisheries of the Fraser River in this area.”

He said the band has “the exclusive right to use and control access to the fisheries.”

A map filed with the statement of claim shows that the Cheam are claiming control of about 20 kilometres of the Fraser River, as well as parts of Harrison River and Harrison Lake.

Ernie Crey, a fisheries consultant with the Sto:lo Nation, said the Cheam want to keep sports anglers out of the area because they don’t think they can share the water peacefully.

“There has been name calling. Rocks have been thrown from the shore. . . . It has become dangerous,” he said.

Mr. Crey said the federal government created the problem by allowing the sport fishery to expand over the past decade, with the harvest limit for sockeye growing from around 5,000 salmon to 50,000.




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