Fond memories of eulachon grease in Bella Coola

The eulachon fishery at Bella Coola is something 34-year-old Megan Moody remembers from her childhood.

The eulachon fishery at Bella Coola is something 34-year-old Megan Moody remembers from her childhood.

When she was a kid she and her friends would hang around the stink boxes when the adults were making eulachon grease.

“We could just pick the fish up out of the river because the river was low and the fish were going through the shallow waters and you could collect a bucket yourself,” Moody recalls.

As a biologist and co-ordinator for the Central Coast First Nations’ new organization called the Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance, Moody works with the nations on different fisheries projects or provides technical support through the organization.

She’s working with the Nuxalk (Bella Coola) and the Wuikinuxv (Rivers Inlet) on eulachon studies this year.

The last time there was eulachon fishery in and around Bella Coola was 1998, which means there are children who have no memory of the fishery.

“We’re finding that the younger kids, because it’s been gone 14 years now, don’t know what an eulachon even looks like. They’ve probably heard stories about grease and things like that, but never seen it,” Moody says.

Before the fishery collapsed, people were noticing slight declines, but in 1996 there was a really strong run.

“The river was black,” Moody says.

There were probably less than that the next couple of years, but locals told Moody the runs always came in cycles, with some years stronger than others.

Every four years or so there’d been a really strong run.

“What was shocking was that people were out fishing in 1998 and the next year they couldn’t see any. I’m sure there were some stragglers coming in like we’re seeing now, but because there were not any large amounts people were wondering where they had gone.”

It’s been like that ever since.

“You can’t fish it or anything. The measurements are in pounds of fish, instead of the tons they once were.”

While it’s not harvestable, the fishery continues to be tracked, she adds.

Numbers from 2011 haven’t been analyzed yet, and 2012’s analysis is in progress. However, Moody thinks there is a small improvement, although very, very low.

Historically local First Nations in the Nuxalk territory fished for eulachon on 10 local rivers systems.

The Bella Coola River was the most fished because the village is located right on the river.

“We used to have other village sites throughout the territory where eulachon were fished, but nobody lives there now,” Moody explains.

During 2005 and 2006, while working on her master’s thesis, Moody interviewed local Nuxalk elders about the eulachon fishery and many suggested the shrimp trawl fishery has led to the drastic decline of eulachone, due to the use of bottom trawlers that captured other species that it’s not targeting.

“Whether it’s eulachon or ground fish, all sorts of other things get caught when you do an un-selective fishery,” Moody says.

Through the interviews, she also learned about varying uses for the eulachon grease, including some that were medicinal and others nutritional.

“When whooping cough was really bad they’d soak a cloth in eulachon grease and wrap the child in it. It would help bring up the bad phlegm. I’ve heard it was used for curing dandruff, the common cold, preserving bread. All these sorts of different uses you wouldn’t normally think of.”

The fish, she adds, has nutrients that butter doesn’t have.

Eulachon are up for a species at risk on the central coast of B.C. and there have been a couple of community meetings scheduled in Bella Coola.

 

 

Just Posted

Michelle Jacobs receives her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Coast Capri Hotel on April 28, 2021. The pop-up clinic was hosted by the First Nations Health Authority. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
126 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

There are 22 individuals hospitalized due to the virus, and 13 in intensive care

A Cariboo Regional District director and School District 27 trustee, Angie Delainey is also a fourth generation business owner in downtown Williams Lake. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Angie Delainey appointed Cariboo Regional District representative on regional board

Delainey and Steve Forseth represent the CRD at the North Central Local Government Association

Pauline Schmutz, 75, receives her COVID-19 vaccine from public health nurse Donna McKenzie on Tuesday, April 13 at the community clinic at Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake campus. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Additional COVID-19 vaccine clinics scheduled for Horsefly, Big Lake

Anyone 18 and over who has not received a vaccine yet is encouraged to register

The Cariboo Regional District. (Angie Mindus photo)
Industrial park slated for Watch Lake Road

Building company Omnitek to start building new plant on 32-acre site

Kokanee Bay Fishing Resort on Puntzi Lake has been purchased by Tsideldel First Nation. (Kokanee Bay Fishing Resort photo)
Tsideldel First Nation buys Kokanee Bay Fishing Resort at Puntzi Lake

“It’s a good opportunity for the band, our children and our future,” said Chief Otis Guichon

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present seven-year-old Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
7-year old Shuswap boy receives medal of bravery for rescuing child at beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

Terrance Mack would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13, 2021. Mack’s family has identified him as the victim of a homicide in an apartment on Third Avenue in Port Alberni sometime in April. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Family identifies Ucluelet man as victim of Vancouver Island homicide

Terrance Mack being remembered as ‘kind, gentle’ man

Vancouver Canucks’ Jake Virtanen (18) and Calgary Flames’ Josh Leivo, front right, vie for the puck as goalie Jacob Markstrom, back left, watches during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Saturday, February 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen sued over alleged sexual assault

Statement of claim says the woman, identified only by her initials, suffered physical and emotional damages

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Most Read