Chief Fred Robbins, pictured above during his fishing protest at the Fraser River for early Stuart salmon. Photo submitted

Chief Fred Robbins, pictured above during his fishing protest at the Fraser River for early Stuart salmon. Photo submitted

UPDATE: B.C. First Nations chief takes to Fraser River in DFO protest

Esketemc chief issued court summons for dipnetting during salmon closure

Esketemc First Nation chief Fred Robbins said the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is pursuing charges against him for failing to comply with a fishery closure.

Robbins said he was issued the summons Wednesday evening while he staged a peaceful protest by dip-netting the early Stuart salmon run in the Fraser River.

“We are protesting DFO’s methods on conservation of wild salmon stocks,” said Robbins of his intentions.

“We’ll see what happens now.”

The DFO closed the Fraser River at 6 p.m. July 9 to dip-netting and Robbins, who has been chief of Esketemc for just two months now, notified DFO of his plans for the peaceful protest July 11.

He said Thursday morning that he had caught one salmon Wednesday evening.

The DFO did not return calls for comment.

The Esketemc First Nation (also know as Alkali Lake) has 1,200 community members, with approximately 500 of those living on reserve. Robbins said the fish are critical to their traditions and culture, and they are not being included in the discussions surrounding conservation efforts.

The early Stuart run has seen conservation efforts in place targeting First Nations communities along the Fraser River for the past 18 years. That closure, Robbins said, has significantly impacted their way of life.

“We are river people. We have been living off the river since time immemorial,” he said.

In recent years, Robbins said on average they would “be lucky” to harvest roughly 200 fish for the entire community if they follow DFO’s closures. He noted when DFO does open the food fishery for them, river conditions, dangerous access points and the health of the fish combine to create great challenges for any success.

“We are allotted 5,000 but because of the timing of the closures and access to our fishing rocks, and the weather we would never get that,” he said. “What we harvest is no where near enough for our community to be self-sufficient.”

Through an agreement known as the Aboriginal Fisheries Service Agreement signed with DFO every year, Robbins said the community has been waving their right to fish at certain times in the season and beyond what they are allotted due to conservation efforts of the early Stuart run. In exchange for their cooperation the community is given about $44,000 to hire and train fisheries officers who monitor the openings and closures and report to DFO.

Any results or studies on how the fish are doing based on information collected during the fishing season, however, is not shared with Esketemc.

RELATED: DFO contemplating sweeping North Coast salmon fishery closure

RELATED: B.C. First Nation announces full closure of Chilcotin River Steelhead fishery

Robbins wants DFO to come to the table and renegotiate a new, respectful AFS agreement where they are included as partners in conservation efforts. Robbins noted after 18 years he has not seen an improvement in the early Stuart run, which is the highest quality fish for smoking and drying for his community.

“When I was a child I would walk into a smokehouse and there would be nothing but fish at this time of year. That was an exciting moment for me because school was out and we were out along the river on the rocks and sand. Now that I am an adult and I go down there, the kids are still down there playing on the rocks and sand but there’s no fish.”

Robbins said the community is currently sitting idle with treaty talks but envision a future where they are “the decision makers on their own land.”


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
editor@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

UPDATE: B.C. First Nations chief takes to Fraser River in DFO protest

Just Posted

North Okanagan business Hytec Kohler set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Spallumcheen plant Friday, May 14. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
More than half of eligible adults in Interior Health vaccinated

Over 365,000 vaccine doses have been administered throughout the Interior Health region

Crews work to repair Horsefly Road east of Williams Lake . (Ministry of Transportation video)
MoTI activates district operations centre, response to flood damaged roads in Cariboo region

Engineers, experts being pulled from across the province to help

RCMP officers on scene Friday, May 14 off Bond Lake Road on the outskirts of Williams Lake. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Update: Williams Lake RCMP arrest one suspect after firearms incident near Bond Lake Road

Given the severity, suspect is being held in custody for a court appearance

An official naming ceremony for the Nekw7usem Bridge connecting the RC Cotton Trail to Scout Island will take place Monday, May 17 at noon. (Patrick Davies file photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
City, WLFN hosting naming ceremony for Nekw7usem Bridge in Williams Lake

The pedestrian bridge connects the RC Cotton Trail to Scout Island

Patricia Froberg (from left), Pat Mitchell and Dorothy Ouellette enjoy lunch prepared by members of the Old Age Pensioners Organization for St. Patrick’s Day Wednesday afternoon. Today, May 14, the Old Age Pensioners Organization Branch 93 and the Seniors Activity Centre are hosting an Old Fashioned Drive In lunch with car hop service at the SAC parking lot from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Old Fashioned Drive In Lunch on menu at seniors centre today, May 14

From 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., swing on by the SAC parking lot for an Old Fashioned Drive In lunch

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

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

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

Steven Shearer, <em>Untitled. </em>(Dennis Ha/Courtesy of Steven Shearer)
Vancouver photographer’s billboards taken down after complaints about being ‘disturbing’

‘Context is everything’ when it comes to understanding these images, says visual art professor Catherine Heard

Trina Hunt's remains were found in the Hope area on March 29. Her family is asking the public to think back to the weekend prior to when she went missing. (Photo courtesy of IHIT.)
Cousin of missing woman found in Hope says she won’t have closure until death is solved

Trina Hunt’s family urges Hope residents to check dashcam, photos to help find her killer

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Restrictions will lift once 75% of Canadians get 1 shot and 20% are fully immunized, feds say

Federal health officials are laying out their vision of what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19

Police are at Ecole Mount Prevost Elementary but the students have been evacuated. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Gardener finds buried explosives, sparking evacuation of Cowichan school

Students removed from school in an ‘abundance of caution’

Most Read