Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Podunk Below the Masthead (Tuesday, February 16, 2010)

Looking for answers on the disappearing eulachon, no sight of the time capsule yet and an insiders look at the All Native Basketball Tournament, some of the items of note for Tuesday.

Daily News, front page, headline story
SOME ARE ALREADY ASKING WHERE HAVE ALL THE EULACHON GONE? -- First Nations up and down the coast are facing a growing concern, that of the fate of the eulachon and what is causing its steep decline, the Daily outlines some of the thoughts from the North coast as to where the problems may be.

Thursday night brings metal to the Tom Rooney playhouse as two bands take to the stage at the Third Avenue West venue. Gyibaaw, a First Nations metal band out of Prince George explained their unique sound and what those who attend Thursday's concert may find.

CityWest's plans to raise the cost of their business lines gets a look over from the Tuesday edition of the Daily. As we outlined in the blog back on February 4th, CityWest has approached the CRTC for the business line increase. The City owned communication company outlined for George T. Baker their reasoning behind the rate increases, highlighting their theme that the cost for Rupert customers is still lower than those in Terrace.

Badminton was the featured item in the Tuesday sports section with a look at the recent High School zones won by Terrace, the Daily also continued on with its special coverage of this weeks All Native Basketball Tournament.

(Archive for Daily News Articles for February 16, 2010 )

The Northern View
District talks closure options at meetings -- The Northern View provides a review of the latest number crunching from the School District as they try to come to terms with the best approach when it comes to school closures and allocating finances to the local system (see article here)

The Northern View
Port Edward sees infrastructure study -- Port Edward reviews its report outlining the cost of maintaining infrastructure over the next fifteen years, a 1.5 million dollar a year bill that may not be attainable in the near term (see article here)

The Northern View
No sign of original time capsule-- The chances of finding the wayward time capsule of Totem Park seem to be growing dimmer, as attempts to locate the missing historical container have not been successful (see article here)

The Northern View
Board not allowed to sell schools-- They can lease but they can't sell, that's the advice that School District 52 has been given about some of its property holdings in the city as the School District explored options for the recently closed schools of the east side. (see article here)

The Northern View
All Native Basketball Tournament results -- A complete listing of the results so far as day three of the tournament comes to a close (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
There were no items of local interest posted to the CFTK website for Tuesday.

CBC News British Columbia, Daybreak North
A closed book -- A review of the recent decision of the Prince Rupert Library to reduce its hours of operation closing its doors on Mondays. Library Board chair Adrienne Johnston outlined the path to the boards decision. ( listen to interview here)

CBC News British Columbia, Daybreak North
51st All Native Basketball Tournament -- Daybreak interviews the iconic Wild William Wesley who provides some background on this years tournament (listen to interview here)

The full list of current Daybreak North interviews can be found here.

Daily News, front page headline story
Some are already asking - where have all the eulachon gone?
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The traditional First Nations ‘candle’ fish is becoming hard to find in local waters.

Up and down the west coast of North America, many First Nations communities have been banned from fishing the popular ‘candle fish’ - a fish with almost no commercial value outside the aboriginal world, but profoundly important to west coast Aboriginals.

Gerald Amos, Haisla band councillor, told the Daily News last week that the Haisla have pretty much given up on there being a healthy eulachon fishery during his lifetime, and that the Kitimat Village community will probably have to rely on trading with Nisga’a fishermen for the foreseeable future.

According to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 16 out of 27 areas on the B.C. coast will be open this year. But the Douglas Channel - home to the Haisla and the Tsimshian community, Hartley Bay - will go another year without being allowed to catch the greasy fish.

“It appears that they are gone for good - and when there were fish, I don’t know if we should have been fishing,” said Amos.

The problems have been blamed on the industrialization of Kitimat - which is pretty much the reason there is a Kitimat in the first place.

Since the 1960s, Kitimat industries have been dumping raw sewage into Douglas Channel and the long term effects have not really been recognized, according to Amos.

Henry Clifton, a member of the Gitga’at – the people of Hartley Bay – said that there has been a noticeable amount of ‘acid rain’ floating over the village since the days of industrialization. He said his people see the grey clouds coming down the channel, carrying sulphur dioxide, every day. And while he doesn’t know for sure whether that is the root cause of the eulachon disappearance, he won’t discount it.

“The eulachons are a very important fish for our people. Our elders look forward to them for gatherings and medicinal purposes. The elders used to gather over some dried fish and talk. But it isn’t as much now,” said Clifton.

What makes the eulachon a special fish is the many purposes it serves on the coast. The eulachon play an important role as food for other animals. It is heavily preyed upon during spawning migrations - or while schooled up - by spiny dogfish, sturgeon, Pacific halibut, whales, sea lions, and birds. If it swims, it is probably a eulachon predator.

Perhaps more noticeably, while in the ocean, where it lives for 90 per cent of its life, it is also preyed on by salmon and other large predatory fishes.

So, not only is it a fish of traditional economic value, but it has ecological ramifications, as well.
Unfortunately there is limited baseline data on the fish, mainly because while it is seen as potentially an important part of the water eco-system and as a part of the First Nation community, it is not considered to be commercially viable.

“It makes me cry to say this, but I think the natural eulachon in B.C. will soon be extinct. But, whether we can scientifically regenerate them remains to be seen,” said Amos.

That could be unrealistic.

According to DFO researcher, Thomas Thierreault only $10,000 per year is allocated for eulachon research for the entire province and most of that money is spent on research for the Fraser River area.

And without proper baseline data, it is unlikely that the type of regeneration needed will come forward.
The Nisga’a still have a fairly vibrant eulachon fishery, but that makes Amos nervous to hear.

The Haisla once had a vibrant fishery as well. And with the electrification of Highway 37 and the development of the Mount Klappan mining project by Fortune Minerals in the Sacred Headwaters - home to the Skeena, Nass and Stikine rivers - the long term impacts may not yet have been felt.

“In the long-view,” reasoned Amos, “Eurocan’s closure will help from an environmental point of view. Short term it will be difficult, but it would be a huge mistake to reopen it as the same kind of pulp mill it is now.”

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