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Tŝilhqot’in close steelhead fishery, call for change – Prince George Citizen

March 31, 2020

The Tŝilhqot’in National Government has closed its fishery for the endangered Chilcotin River steelhead trout.

The Williams Lake-area First Nation issued a statement saying monitoring efforts found only 58 adult steelhead trout returned to the river in 2018 and 77 in 2019. The steelhead trout population in the river has declined 81 per cent over 18 years, the First Nation said.

“The harvest of Chilcotin River steelhead has traditionally been critical to members of the Tŝilhqot’in Nation, taking place at a time of year when other food sources have been in low supply,” the Tŝilhqot’in statement said. “The population of this iconic fish has drastically declined over the past five years, forcing the Tŝilhqot’in Nation to forgo their collective Aboriginal right to fish steelhead.”

The decline in steelhead trout, along with declines in salmon populations exacerbated by the Big Bar landslide in 2019, has hurt the food security of the First Nation, the statement said.

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