Commercial fishery closed tonight due to local concerns

The fishery was supposed to open tonight

The opening for the gill net Chinook salmon commercial fishery is closed tonight due to community concerns.

The notice, which was posted on June 26, says that “the Department is working to address the concerns raised with the “Area C Commercial Fishing COVID-19 Safety Plan for Area 8 (Bella Coola area)”. These concerns need to be addressed prior to future openings occurring. An update on the next commercial fishery opening date will be provided by fishery notice on Tuesday, June 30, 2020.”

Nuxalk hereditary leadership had expressed concern over the openings, saying that the small harbour wasn’t equipped to handle an influx of boats during the COVID-19 pandemic.

n a Facebook post earlier in the month the United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union proposed several guidelines for its members to keep away from Bella Coola while fishing, including an order not to cross a boundary that was six miles from Bella Coola, not to fuel up or get supplies in the community, and not to enter the community if someone was to fall ill on their vessel.

“This decision to not allow access includes non-resident commercial fishermen and extends to Bella Coola’s marine infrastructure (wharfs, fuel station, ice plant etc),” the post reads. “The result of this boundary is that non-resident gillnet fisherman will remain at least six miles away from Bella Coola township at all times. To discern residents from non-residents, a resident will fly a white flag from the topmost mast.”

There have been local complaints the guidelines were not being followed adequately.

More to come.

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