Fisheries agreement to be signed with Alberni First Nations

It's late in the fishing season and fishers have been on the Somass River since May but the Tseshaht and Hupacasath First Nations are set to sign a sales agreement with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

It’s late in the fishing season and fishers have been on the Somass River since May but the Tseshaht and Hupacasath First Nations are set to sign a sales agreement with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

The agreement will likely be initialed on Monday, Tseshaht councillor Luke George said.

The agreement allows for fishermen from both tribes to catch and sell 165,000 pieces of sockeye.

The number is based on a run forecast of just over one million fish returning to the Somass.

A reported 250,000 fish have entered the Valley’s lake systems.

Sales could increase when the forecast is re-evaluated later.

Road-side sales will likely continue, and they will be complimented but not displaced by bulk cash buyers.

“It’s a convenience when cash buyers buy fish in the round from fisherman,” George said.

“But you can get a good price selling in the round on the road side.”

On Thursday The Tseshaht voted 47-9 in favour of signing the sales agreement -the first in a decade.

“I voted against it because I think it’s about managing us and not managing the fishery,” George said.

“And it’s late in the season – this should have been signed in May, not on July 4.”

The agreement will bring up to $2 million worth of economic benefit to the communities, as well as revenue to enhance the Tseshaht’s fisheries program, George said.

Fishing has been up and down since fishers first hit the waters in May and a total of 25,000 fish have been caught so far.

“Guys were getting between 60-100 fish a set,” George said.

“It’s slowed down though – today I only got 20.”

Long time biologist David Lightly has been hired to assist with planning the fishery.

Hupacasath officials couldn’t be reached for comment.

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