Upper Skeena Roundtable Report –February 2008
A scientific review of Skeena River salmon and steelhead stocks has been initiated through an agreement with Fisheries & Oceans Canada and the Provincial Ministry of Environment. This process is headed by a group of 5 noted scientists from the west coast who are to review existing stock information on the Skeena and come up with recommendations for future fisheries prior to the 2008 commercial fishing season. A lot of information to digest and a short time frame for serious comment but we wish the panel well and are hopeful for a constructive result. The funding for this initiative is apparently through the Tide Foundation and from the Moore Foundation from the USA. Our government must not have the money or a serious enough commitment to the Skeena resource to look after the second largest river on the west coast.
The Moore Foundation via Tide is also fronting money to the Skeena Wild Foundation for a Skeena Watershed Committee De-brief. Skeena Wild is the newest NGO in the area and the Skeena Watershed Committee (SWC) was a multi-sectoral groups set up in the 1990’s to deal with Skeena fisheries management issues in a co-management context. Since the SWC’s demise, when the commercial sector stepped away from the process, North Coast fisheries management has again slipped back into its old ways and stocks of all species are again in decline on the Skeena. One can only hope that taking funds from outside sources does not compromise the process for residents and fishers of the area. The purpose of the de-brief is to try and take what worked from the old process and perhaps try and establish a new consultation/management process with Skeena stakeholders. The group attending will include agency members, some interested observers and a few of the other First Nation, sport and commercial sector members from the past committee.
The Provincial Quality Waters Process has completed it’s first of a few trips through the watershed towards compiling Angling Management Plans for many northern rivers with angling use issues. This is the fifth process and fifth consultant in the past 15 years that the province has hired to try and do their job for them. Let’s hope something gets done this time around.
The latest resource news from the mining sector related to the Upper Skeena is a proposal from Fortune Minerals to run a pipeline from the Upper Skeena to a railhead at Hazelton to transport a coal and water slurry from the coal deposits in the upper watershed to the Prince Rupert container port. They contend that the water used to transport the coal in the pipeline should be clean as it would be just like running it through a charcoal filter….perhaps they think it’s a way to cleanup the sour water from their methane deposits!?