The Fisheries Department is in a co-management setting with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) under an Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy (AFS) agreement. Under this agreement, a work plan is followed that both DFO and the Tŝilhqot’in National Government Chiefs have negotiated. All work plans within the agreement are under the direction of the Tŝilhqot’in Chiefs, with no work being initiated without the consent of the Chiefs.
The Fishery Program runs throughout the year, with most field projects running in conjunction with the annual salmon run. There are, on average, seven projects throughout the year, employing approximately thirty individuals.
With Tŝilhqot’in members using the rivers more in the summer the Fisheries Department utilises this season as an opportunity to hear concerns surrounding fisheries and make changes or adjustments where needed. One of our main objectives is to keep the Chilcotin salmon run healthy while rebuilding Fraser River stocks. The Upper Fraser Fisheries Conservation Alliance (UFFCA) has more information on the Upper Fraser Fisheries stocks.
The objective of the Fisheries Department is to work alongside DFO regarding harvesting, monitoring, conserving and protecting the salmon stocks passing through the Tŝilhqot’in territory. The fisheries department also keeps order and control during the salmon harvesting season to ensure safety.
The Chilcotin River sockeye has been an integral component of Tŝilhqot’in culture for centuries. In 2010 the TNG initiated an inland commercial fishery – the Tŝilhqot’in Select Fishery, harvesting sockeye salmon from the Chilcotin River in accordance with the DFO’S commercial fishing licenses. The Tŝilhqot’in Select Fishery is a member of the River Select Fisheries Cooperative – a small group of interior First Nations participating in conservation based inland commercial fisheries.
These fisheries aim to uphold the importance of fish conservation by engaging in sustainable, responsible selective fishing practices that help to maintain salmon stock diversity while protecting the weaker salmon stocks. The commercial fishing season typically occurs between mid- August and early-September. Local fishers are hired and harvest the salmon by using traditional dip net techniques.
Tŝilhqot’in Select salmon and salmon products from the River Select members are available locally at: Cariboo Growers Co-op, The Bean Counter, The Gecko Tree, Trattoria Pasta Shop, Cj’s Southwestern Grill, The Williams Lake Tourist Centre, Chartreuse Moose café (100 Mile House), Savalas Steak House (Quesnel), and Ave Maria Health (Prince George).