Sunday, July 26, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Friday, July 24, 2009

A gillnet gathering at DFO, looking for some input on trails, and some First Nations are rejecting the governments Recognition and Reconiliation initiative, some of the items of note in the Friday edition.

FISHERMEN CONVERGE ON THE DFO OFFICE-- 35 commercial fishermen took their demands to the Prince Rupert offices of DFO last week, a last ditch attempt to convince DFO officials to review their recent announcement as to fishery openings, anxious to have DFO allow them to head out to the fishing grounds. (see story below)

The Union of BC Indian Chiefs are stepping away from the current process of regonition and reconcilliation, suggesting that there are too many questions stemming from the act that have yet to be answered. Of particular concern is the issue of land ownership which the Chiefs say is too important to be allowed to be legislated away. The latest in public opposition to the province's plans could prove to be the final word on the matter, with less and less inclination from First Nations to be a part of that particulary initiative.

Those that like to take a nice walk, or a bike ride on some of the local trails will want to drop into Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional District's Open House on July 29, when a number of potential trail options are outlined for the public.
Three options are up for discussion, linking up Butze Rapids to the Shoe Tree Trail for bicycle use, a trail from Mount Hays road to Barrett Fort and on to Wainwright, Galloway Rapids and Port Edward, or a possible route involving the cemetery along the railway tracks and on to Port Edward. A consultant for the study will be in attendance at the open house from 2 until 8 pm to outline the different possibilities. The open house takes place at the SQCRD offices in Prince Rupert at 100 First Avenue West.

The Sports section provided a preview of the Prince Rupert Seamen rematch with Terrace, which was scheduled to take place on Saturday, July 25th.

Total pages in the Friday edition (18)

Front page, headline story:

By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Friday, July 24, 2009
Page one

North Coast fishermen want at the fish.

When United Allied Fishermen Union North Coast representative, Joy Thorkelsen, led a congregation of 35 commercial fishermen into the Prince Rupert Department of Fisheries and Oceans office to demand that they be allowed to fish as soon as next week, she chose her words carefully.

"I just want everyone to be ... no walls should be punched in. We want everyone to be respectful,' said Thorkelsen.

The fishermen were irate because an announcement made Thursday morning intimated there would not be a statement on fishery-opening until the following Thursday. This has created the fear that if they don't get in right away, it will be too late.

According to Thorkelsen,50 to 100 vessels have already given up on the fishing season and have gone home. But she and commercial fishermen believe that there will be enough fish available this year based on what has been seen in the water during the allocation for Aboriginal food fishing this year.

According to the spokeswoman, the fish are out there and are only waiting for difficult tides to settle.

"Fishermen with long experience say there are lots of fish in the pipe that are ready to come up," said Thorkelsen.

Earlier this year. the DFO allotted a 20 per cent cut of salmon stock for fishermen if numbers of salmon reached 2 million through monitoring, and 10 per cent if it was 1.5 million. Thorkelsen said the DFO is now predicting a 1 million season.

One of the challenges the DFO faces is that testing is done inside the Skeena at a terminal just southeast of Prince Rupert at a place called Tyee. The DFO representatives believe that Tyee is an accurate location for the test site and a proper net is used to determine how many fish are in the water at a given time.

What the fishermen want is a share of this information on food fish, plus better monitoring of sport fishermen to get accurate numbers on what is being caught and what is swimming upstream.

Dave Peacock, head of North Coast stock assessment for the DFO expressed his understanding.

"You are not getting cut a lot of slack, and I know you don't like it," said Peacock.

One fishermen responded that Peacock had no idea how much fishermen did not like it. But although heated exchanges might have appeared on the verge of boiling over, tempers were reigned in and a working arrangement was agreed upon.

"You are not-the enemy and we know that.

All we ask is that you monitor on a daily basis, and that you update us everyday," asked another fishermen.

Fred Wilson, 50, has been fishing with a commercial license since he was 16. He said when he first started, it was a five-day a week job during the summer. "Now we are lucky to have five days per summer," said Wilson.

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