For the second year in a row people in the Williams Lake area have had the luxury of legally buying sockeye salmon fresh from the Chilcotin River system.
The Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG) has been licensed by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to sell a limited number of sockeye from the Chilcotin River run to the general public on a commercial basis.
The sockeye sales began Aug. 29 out of the back of a fish truck parked at the Cariboo Grower’s parking lot and sales of large, whole, salmon have been selling like the proverbial “hot cakes” since.
There was a line-up Tuesday of people eager to purchase the salmon and sellers said the sales would continue this week, as long as the supply continues. The run is now at its peak.
To ensure getting a fish or two, or more, people can contact Stephanie Leon at the TNG office at 250-392-3918 to find out when fish will be available or be notified when fish will be available.
Cecil Grinder, who was at the fish truck Tuesday, with Trina Setah, says all of the TNG staff have been taking turns manning the sales outlet.
Every sale is documented.
In the Cariboo Grower’s parking lot there is a receptionist at a table who will take your order and issue an official receipt as well as sticker that is to be placed on the plastic bag of fish that is handed out at the fish truck.
After being caught the fish are kept fresh on ice in coolers until being sold.
By mid-day, Tuesday, Setah said they had sold about 170 fish.
Les Jantz, Fisheries and Oceans chief of resource management for the B.C. Interior, says about 1,000 sockeye had been harvested in the TNG First Nations commercial demonstration fishery in the Chilcotin River since it started at the end of August.
He says it is a good year for a First Nations commercial fishery in the Chilcotin River system because returning stocks are strong and higher for this year than originally projected.
He says there are also feasibility studies and training sessions taking place this summer for a First Nations commercial fishery in the Quesnel River system, but no fish sales at this time, given the unusually low returns to tributaries in this system over the past few years.
But with the training and research taking place now, he says there could eventually be a First Nations commercial fishery in the Quesnel River system in dominant and sub-dominant run years when returns are higher.