The Sumas First Nation is working with the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to pilot an eight-inch selective gill-net fishery in the traditional territory of S’olh Temexw at what is currently known as the Sumas/Vedder River in Abbotsford.
The Sumas First Nation is requesting cooperation of recreational and water users in the area to take actions to avoid the gill nets, which will be marked with buoys from now until Aug. 31.
They say that due to declining salmon abundance, limited access to the Fraser River, and the effects of the Big Bar landslide, the harvesting of salmon on the Sumas/Vedder will provide some of the annual needs of the community.
Sumas First Nation says the use of larger eight-inch mesh will selectively target chinook salmon while avoiding smaller bodied stocks of concern to pass through such as Chilliwack and Cultus Lake sockeye.
They say that other selective gear such as tangle tooth nets and other methods will be considered as part of this pilot.
The Sumas First Nation leadership and members say they are embracing the opportunity to renew a former fishery that will be conducted in the Sumas/Vedder system, which is a remnant of the Sumas Lake that was drained in 1924.
The harvest will be specifically for food, social, and ceremonial needs of the community – a constitutionally protected right – and to collect necessary data and information on the 2020 status of the terminal salmon run.
The selective fishery will be monitored daily by the Fraser Valley Aboriginal Fisheries Society, which will share the data with Sumas First Nation and DFO.
DFO Conservation and Protection and the RCMP have also been invited to participate and provide presence during the fishery.