Tseshaht First Nation

July 13, 2010 18:40 ET

Tseshaht First Nation Standing Tall in Exercising Right to Fish

Attention: Assignment Editor, Business/Financial Editor, Environment Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor PORT ALBERNIE, BC, PRESS RELEASE--(Marketwire - July 13, 2010) - Tseshaht First Nation of Port Alberni are standing tall in exercising their Aboriginal rights to fish, as they have done since time immemorial. This is a right that has recently been confirmed by the B.C. Supreme Court decision in Ahousaht v. Canada. Yet in the eyes of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, we are labelled as criminals. Our right to fish for a modest livelihood is not recognized or respected by DFO.

Tseshaht has engaged with DFO to reach an agreement on sockeye; however this was not possible because DFO has refused to recognize the recent Supreme Court decision in the allocation of fish to Tseshaht. With such a strong predicted run size, acceptance of the allocation formula tabled by DFO would effectively mean that other groups would reap the benefits of an increased run size while Tseshaht would not. The result would be to deny and undermine Tseshaht Aboriginal rights. This is unacceptable.

"Every year Tseshaht has carefully developed a management plan that takes into consideration conservation, escapement and the needs of its members. We are responsible fishers," says Chief Councillor Les Sam. Whether the run size is high or low, Tseshaht take measures to conserve stocks. "For example, in 2007, Tseshaht shut down its sockeye fishery to protect the stock because the run size was low. In 2008, for the first time in its history, Tseshaht members did not fish for sockeye to preserve the run. This was a Tseshaht decision," says Chief Sam. During this season, the Tseshaht have implemented a management plan that protects the sockeye.

The benefit that arises from the Tseshaht fisheries management plan is significant and one that enhances the depressed Port Alberni economy. The current Tseshaht fishery enables its members to meet the very basic need of providing food, shelter and clothing for their families. Far from being an illegal activity, it is an exercise of our constitutional right.

Tseshaht believes in local area-based fisheries management which in turn benefits all our communities. Tseshaht has been actively engaged with DFO in collaborative management discussions. However, DFO's decision to not accommodate Tseshaht in years of abundance such as this season, coupled with its refusal to implement the recent court decision in Ahousaht, raises the question of its true commitment to reconciliation.

Contact Information

  • Les Sam, Chief, Tseshaht First Nation
    Primary Phone: 250-720-7334