Upper Skeena Roundtable Report – Winter 2011
After about 14 years of involvement with SEHAB Ev Person has decided to step back from representation on the Board. He has very much enjoyed his tenure with the board and discussions and association with SEHAB members. Due to family commitments and old age Ev (78) feels it is time to step down. He feels the work of the Board is important but is often slowed in process, and that the advice of the Board is not often listened to by DFO. As time progresses DFO appears to be stepping away from responsibilities and commitment to community process and protection of the resource. After many years of participation with agency and advisory organizations Ev is hopeful agencies will follow through on working with community projects, as well as obligations to the resource and local stewards. As a 14 year member of SEHAB, 25 year treasurer and director of Toboggan Creek Society, chairman and member of SFAB locally, Ev has put in his time. He will continue to offer his support to Toboggan Creek Society, SEHAB and SFAB as an experienced member. His efforts and representation over the years are much appreciated by the volunteers and associations he has touched during 2 decades of service.
Toboggan Creek Enhancement Society and the manager Mike O’Neil were recently awarded 25 year plaques in recognition of their years of assessment work in Skeena Region. Habitat biologist Barry Finnegan presented the awards to the Board of Directors and the manager at a recent director’s meeting. The facility had another successful year of operations in Chinook and Coho salmon enhancement for assessment purposes and operations of adult and smolt assessments. Coho returns to Toboggan Creek were approximately 4200 adults above the fence. A steelhead counting fence was also employed by the society on Toboggan Creek in spring 2010 and early indications suggest approximately 400+ steelhead returned to the creek to spawn. The Morice Chinook program forcoded wire tag releases was also brought back again with over 70,000 eggs collected for release as marked smolts in 2012.
Chicago Creek Society has lost the opportunity to operate the coho hatchery and release program as the property it was located on has been sold. Equipment owned by the Society and DFO has been moved from the site. The Chicago Creek group will continue to run a fence and transport operation for Coho adults on Station Creek in conjunction with DFO and the Dept. of Highways. Dept. of Highways pays for this operation due to an obstruction caused by highway construction years ago. Greig Holden of Chicago Creek Society has been nominated by the local CA as a representative to replace Ev’s position.
The Wet’suwet’en Fisheries had another successful year of operations at Moricetown Canyon. The crews tagged over 8,000 steelhead, 7000 coho, 3344 sockeye as well as chinook. Final reports on total escapements based on their works are pending.
Gitksan Fisheries carried out a number of programs in the Upper Skeena including a radio tagging project on Chinook in the middle and upper reaches of the Skeena. Reports are still coming but preliminary reports from middle Skeena/Kispiox area suggest the Chinook runs were below the 10 year average, coho were slightly about average, while sockeye returns to native streams were poor. Chum salmon have almost disappeared with only a few remnant pods remaining in the Kispiox. Pink salmon runs were also very poor even considering the even year normal lower returns.
Nat’oot’en Fisheries completed their third successful year of operations of the Babine Counting Fence and passed approximately 1,000,000 sockeye, including over 100,000 jack sockeye, through to Babine Lake and tributaries. Following the Fort Babine Salmon Enhancement Project’s recent demise the Lake Babine Band negotiated strongly to maintain the contract in the area for residents and were successful in attaining about 50% of the previous annual allocation of SEP funds. The CEDP component is now managed by the Lake Babine Band. Local crews were trained as streamkeepers, on data collection and following the field season local area streams were picked clean of debris. Nat’oot’en Fisheries also implemented a local sale component for their jack sockeye sales which proved very popular at Farmers’ markets in the area.
Major projects proposed for the area continue to be the main habitat focus for residents of the Pacific Northwest with the proposed Enbridge pipeline still the biggest battle to be won. Residents, Municipalities and First Nations remain determined to ensure this does not happen in Skeena region. The Northwest Transmission Line is in the works as well and negotiations on location seem key to approvals and final review.