According to various reports, the largest sockeye run in over 100 years was expected to return to the Fraser River this summer. Forecasts ranged from a low of 7.3 million to a high of 72.5 million fish returning with a 50% probability of the return being either greater than or less than 23 million sockeye. As seen with the record sockeye return in 2010, significant increases in sport fishers migrating to the Lower Fraser between Hope and Agassiz was expected to recur in 2014. This had the potential to bring about impacts and challenges such as unsafe parking on the highways, railway crossing violations, trespassing on First Nations lands, increased competition for fishing locations, illegal garbage dumping and sanitation issues related to a lack of public toilets. The Harmony on the Fraser initiative aimed to mitigate these predicted impacts and capitalize on potential opportunities – especially those related to outreach and education about the cultural significance and relationship that First Nations have with Pacific Salmon – by engaging relevant and diverse interests in a solutions dialogue and co-creating a Lower Fraser Action Plan and Implementation Framework.
Solutions DialogueIn June 2014 the Fraser Basin Council convened a solutions dialogue under the banner of “Harmony on the Fraser” to discuss the upcoming salmon fishing season, and the challenges and opportunities it presents.
This year is projected to be a strong year for Fraser River sockeye. Fisheries and Oceans Canada estimates that returns could top the 30 million sockeye that returned in 2010. This means good fishing opportunities opening for all sectors, but also crowded fishing conditions in some areas, particularly in the busy stretch between Chilliwack and Hope.
Many new recreational anglers are expected on the Fraser this summer, and some may not be familiar with the rules or understand that both Aboriginal and recreational fisheries may be active on the river at the same time. In the past, there have been concerns about unsafe parking, unsafe highway or rail crossings, trespassing, garbage dumping, poor sanitation, and lack of courtesy among the people fishing, whether on boat or shore.
These and other issues were discussed in the dialogue, which had a good turnout from First Nations, sport fishing organizations, conservation interests and enforcement agencies. Everyone agreed on the importance of encouraging safe and respectful relations along the river this season and in future years.
Most people on the river are respectful of each other, of course, and simply want to enjoy their fishing experience. It is important that they be supported and that everyone share in keeping harmony on the Fraser. The solutions dialogue was helpful in identifying actions that participants could take to address problems in their own areas of responsibility, now and in future years.
ISLAND 22 EVENTFraser Basin Council joined the Fraser River Fisheries Peacemakers at Island 22 in Chilliwack on August 16 under the banner of “Harmony on the Fraser.” Theresa Fresco of FBC presented a certificate of appreciation to Rod Clapton and Ernie Crey of the Peacemakers to recognize the group’s work in promoting river etiquette and building better relations between First Nations and recreational fishers over the last five years.
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in the News:
Fishing up the Right Creek (Chilliwack Times – Aug.13, 2014)
Salmon sales at roadside stations by First Nations are legal now (Chilliwack Progress – Aug.14, 2014)