Esket Chief Fred Robbins wants a state of emergency called for the Big Bar slide site on the Fraser River. Photo submitted

Chief calls for state of emergency and fishery closure in light of Big Bar slide in Fraser River

Chief Robbins said his own community of Esket will not fish until the slide is dealt with

A state of emergency and complete fishing closure should be called because of the Big Bar rock slide in the Fraser River, said Esket (Alkali Lake) Chief Fred Robbins Tuesday.

“Along the coast they aren’t feeling the impact and on July 18 they can start fishing, but I believe there should be a complete closure for all fishing on the coast,” said Robbins, noting the impacts for Interior communities that rely on salmon as a food source could be devastating if the fish can’t get through the slide.

Read more: An extreme crisis for our sacred salmon’: B.C. rockslide threatens First Nations’ food security

Robbins flew over the slide area last week and said the rock that fell into the Fraser River that happened around June 21 or 22 has caused a 15-metre waterfall and the only salmon making it over are bigger than 80 centimetres.

“If only salmon that are 80 cm or larger are going to get by, then probably four million sockeye are going to be stuck behind this slide. It hasn’t been given the recognition that it deserves. There are scalers and a number of engineers on the river and they have set a camp at Lillooet. They do have plans in place, but the high waters and the debris are hindering those plans.”

On average the community catches between 450 to 550 food fish that go to elders and low-income families.

Their community does not do any commercial fishing or trading or bartering of fish, as the elders shun that, Robbins added.

Normally they fish in June and so far have only caught one Chinook.

Robbins called a meeting in the community on July 12 and told members they would not be fishing until the rock slide is dealt with.

“I think the early Stuart conservation effort is going to be destroyed I feel unless there are maybe a few early Stuart that made it through before the rock slide,” he said.

“The Stuart should be going through in the next week passed our (fishing) rock which is 15 kilometres north of the rock slide. This year is supposed to be a record run for the Chilko as well as the summer run.”

He said there is a back eddy below the slide now with so much debris he fears the salmon are probably starting to tuck themselves under the debris.

Robbins is proposing different options to deal with the slide.

One would be to put in a temporary fish weir to hold the fish back. Putting more rock in the river could create rest areas for the salmon and knock down the 15-metre water fall into more manageable levels.

“The salmon that are stuck behind the slide may end up looking for other tributaries to spawn, like 2012, when the Fraser waters were high, the early Stuart and summer runs were looking to spawn in Williams Lake and other fresh water tributaries such as Soda Creek and Word Creek.”

A second option is to drop concrete barriers by helicopter and place them on the edge of the river so fish can jump up a man-made fish ladder.

The final option, which Robbins said is the most far-fetched of the three is to bring in a whoosh system.

Essentially it is a 10,000 pound barge with tubes that could suck the fish through to the other side of the slide.

Problematic is the access to the river by truck, he said.

A final, and least desirable option, is to transfer the fish by helicopter, which Robbins said would cause distress and possible escapement.

“We need more boots on the ground and government to government to government discussion.”

The Big Bar slide is not going to impact the Shuswap or Thompson runs, but will impact everything on the Fraser River — the Chilko, summer, Quesnel, late summer, pinks, coho and steelhead runs, Robbins said.

“If the Chilko run is destroyed, it is also going to destroy the economic benefits that the province feels along the coast,” Robbins said.

“I am recommending a complete closure of all fishery along the coast, that is commercial, recreation, tourism, catch and release.”

Robbins is part of an ad-hoc group made up of representatives on the Fraser River. There are 25 reps, so far, and growing , he said.

“I am part of the technical working group and we are having conference calls every other day for updates.”

Read more: Experts consider best way to free salmon trapped below Fraser slide



news@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Esket Chief Fred Robbins is calling on the province to declare a state of emergency regarding the Big Bar rock slide. Robbins is also advocating a complete fishery closure until the slide is dealt with. Chief Robbins photo

Just Posted

RANCH MUSINGS: No till pasture rejuvenation and silvopasture trials: up-coming event

You can read about on farm research but seeing it and discussing it with others is a much better way

International students get history lesson at Little Red Schoolhouse

The Little Red Schoolhouse at 150 Mile House hosted six students from Matsuyama, Japan

Cycling club excited to open new beginner trail on Fox Mountain

Dubbed ‘Fox Fire,’ the trail parallels Fox Mountain Road from Mason Road to Ross Road

Watch: Blackberry Wood keeps the show going despite the rain

While a turn in the weather ended the night, the lakecity was still treated with excellent music

FOREST INK: Forest tenure changes are occurring throughout the world

Jim Hilton discusses why who or what owns the world’s forests matters to the industry

70 years of lifting: Canadian man, 85, could cinch weightlifting championship

The senior gym junkie is on track to win the World Masters Weightlifting championship

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

RCMP, search crews hunt for 4-year-old boy missing near Mackenzie

George went missing early Saturday afternoon

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

B.C. VIEWS: Log exports and my other errors so far in 2019

Plastic bags, legislature overspending turn out differently

Most Read