The goal of the Fisheries Department is to monitor the early Stuart and late Stuart sockeye runs to ensure that they will be managed and assessed on a regular basis. Maintaining these runs is of utmost importance to our people and we manage them sustainably to ensure the future generations will have the same opportunity as we do today. Salmon, and fish in general, are a mainstay of our traditional diet. It is what our people have relied on for generations. We rely on numerous species of fish get our sustenance throughout the winter and ensuring Tl’azt’en Nation is fully involved in the management of these stocks is the main goal of the Fisheries Department staff.
Tl’azt’en Nation has operated the Early Stuart Adult Enumeration Program along with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council (CSTC) since the early 1990s. We monitor spawning activities and do live counts in 41 streams and rivers in the Stuart-Takla Watershed. This provides an estimate of the escapement of the early Stuart sockeye run. The early Stuart program typically runs from mid July to late August. This program is gives us a good estimate of what has returned to the spawning beds. The early Stuart sockeye have been on the decline since the late 1990s and have become a huge concern to Tl’azt’enne people. The Fisheries Department is committed to ensuring this stock of concern can endure for generations to come.
Tl’azt’en Nation has also operated the Late Stuart Adult Enumeration/Mark and Recapture Program along with the DFO. The late Stuart sockeye spawn mainly in larger rivers. We monitor Tachie River, Middle River, Kuzkwa River and Binche Creek. On years when the population is >75,000 sockeye, a mark and recapture program is initiated. The mark and recapture program provides an additional tool in assessing the population of the Late Stuart run. The Late Stuart program usually operates from Late August – Early October. In recent history, the Late Stuart has been the main contributor to Tl’azt’en Nation’s food fishery. Although, recently the Late Stuart has also been on a decline when compared to cycle line averages.
Each year the Fisheries Department employs a catch monitor during the fishing season. The role of catch monitor is to collect catch data from the fishermen/women in the three communities of Tl’azt’en Nation. This data is important because it reflects our ability to sustain ourselves for the winter months, and also helps us track the amount of salmon we take each year, which is especially important on years of low returns.
Sturgeon monitors are hired during the fishing season to assist fishers to release the sturgeon from their net safely. The monitors also collect data such as measurements, pit tag data (if available), location of catch etc. Sturgeon release kits are given out to those that catch sturgeon. The kit has net mending supplies to repair nets if they are torn during the release.
We currently have 52 nations that have submitted a BCR or Council Resolution from their community that designates a “Member Delegate” that has the authority to vote on behalf of their nation.
We are currently in the pre-negotiation phase, where we are working on finalizing a framework to negotiate. The framework is intended to be a neutral document that outlines the rules for negotiating. We are hoping to have finalized this document before June 2015 (fishing season).
We are currently part of the Upper Fraser Fisheries Conservation Alliance (UFFCA). It is a first nation led group that provides technical assistance to its member nation regarding fisheries matters. We have been a part of this group since its inception in 2005.
We are currently working in partnership with the UFFCA on planning a fisheries habitat restoration project. We received notice that approximately $25 million was available over the next 5 years for fisheries habitat restoration projects. These funds were made available after a report by Douglas Eyeford pointed out that many First Nations that are being affected by energy projects indicated that there is a shortage of fish habitat work/funds that are available to them. The Government of Canada made available these funds to be administered by the DFO.
With the UFFCA, we applied and received funds for planning until the end of fiscal year 2015. We are currently engaged with EDI on developing a work plan to move things forward and get some work done in the new fiscal year.
For any additional information regarding Fisheries please contact:
Fisheries Manager, Darren Haskell