Skeena River, B.C. – The BC Wildlife Federation sent a letter to the Sports Fishery Advisory Board of British Columbia, North Coast, that supports the concept of developing a pound (trap) net proposed to be located on the lower Skeena River by the Lax-Kw’Alaams First Nation. The Wild Fish Conservancy (WFC) and Lax-Kw’Alaams First Nation proposal is well written and technically sound, and the BCWF compliments them for a very good proposal.
WFC has been operating a modified pound net trap project on the Columbia River for several years. The pound net system gently guides the fish into nets, a technique used successfully for millennia by Indigenous peoples. The pound net and gate system allow operators to avoid overcrowding and provides the ability to sort fish without touching them. The Columbia River pound net operation tracked tagged fish over 400 kilometres distance and recorded a 95 percent post-release survival rate. There was no scale damage to the fish and no bruising.
View WFC presentation on the Columbia River at the BCWF Selective Fishing Forum: WFC Presentation
Harvey Andrusak, BCWF Fisheries – Inland Committee Chair and Past President said, “the BCWF supports selective fishing methods as alternatives to current non-selective gill net methods. We have been very adamant about this issue on the lower Fraser River concerning the conservation of endangered interior Fraser steelhead. DFO support for the Skeena pound net proposal by the Lax-Kw’Alaams First Nation is good news and suggests such support equally applies to the lower Fraser River.”
The BCWF Board of Directors considered the fish trap proposal by the WFC and is prepared to offer support with conditions, which are:
- The proposed fish trap is experimental only with no harvest for a minimum of two years and all gathered data compared to the Tyee test fishery.
- A statement from Lax-Kw’Alaams First Nation that every effort will be made to make this a community endeavour between all bands and all commercial sectors.
- Harvest by the trap net is matched with an equivalent reduction by any alternate methods of capture. A quid pro quo is essential.
- Public fishing opportunities must remain an objective of the trap net fishery.
- Monitoring of catch and effort is mandatory. DNA sampling cwt and data to be shared and used to help build stock compilation and run timing, and to help achieve Pacific Salmon Treaty obligations where applicable.
- Public access to all data must be assured, with the objective of an opportunity for a public sustenance-based fishery.