Unless you take into account who the players are, you will never see the real complete picture. We have it on good authority that the man committing this act is also the son of the same elder who was involved in telling 3 other Witset elders, that they were stripped of their blankets and would have to hold a “Shame Feast” recover their dignity among their people. Considering these 3 elders had the support of the elected band counsel of Witset, thats a pretty heavy handed way to force people into compliance with John Ridsdale.
Now when her son is involved in shaming the entire community by his actions, suddenly John hides not a child that committed this heinous act, this was a full grown adult not in his twenties or early thirties, but a man fully capable of standing up and speaking for himself. So much effort is expended in hiding his identity, why? If they do identify him will they be allowed to blame it on the 50% German blood that is at fault?
Or do we need to cut him a break because this type of behavior has been going on there for decades not just the last few years. For many years we watched salmon ripped wide open (chinook included) floating downstream only to lie rotting downstream all the way back to Hazelton. If photos could only be converted to live video, this incident would have been a minor one. The sockeye run on the Morice River is considered to be among the world endangered species, yet every year they are on sale in downtown Smithers by out of the back of pickup truck sales. They know the buyers houses mostly, plus referrals, the DFO can only file charges against the buyers who do not have membership in this exclusive race based privilege.
The DFO used to patrol our rivers for illegal nets, but thanks to budget cuts, there is only a budget when they need to be there for a TV or News story, otherwise there is no budget for boat gas. If only the media dared to tell the whole story as opposed to fearing getting labeled racist for telling the truth.
The following was gleaned from Facebook’s ‘Steelhead Voices’ as its clear hundreds of people aside from myself have witnesses this abuse over the decades.
‘The article below speaks to damage control on the part of the Wet’suwet’en people faced with addressing the public backlash over the video that reached at least 250,000 people since it appeared on August 5. Fair enough. However, there are a couple of points that ring awfully hollow for those familiar with what typically occurs at Witset over the past many years.
To begin, this was no isolated event (“a very rare occurrence”). I have a very large collection of photographs bracketing three decades to confirm that point. It was not out of sight and out of mind. The fishing location is right there in full view of Highway 16 and most of the community of Witset. It was broad daylight on a holiday weekend. The Wet’suwet’en leaders were not alerted to the incident that occurred right there in their midst until two days later? Would it ever have been acknowledged in the absence of the viral video?
The excuse that the fisher was in a hurry was rejected by the Wet’suwet’en leaders, justifiably so. That would never pass the red face test. The fisher was short on fish ID skills doesn’t pass any red face test either.
The incident may not be over, though, because the Conservation Officers have it under review on the basis of fish not being released immediately and unharmed as per the BC Sportfishing Regulations. Good luck on that one.
How about the section of the Fisheries Act of Canada which states:
(4) No person shall
(a) damage or obstruct any fishway constructed or used to enable fish to pass over or around any obstruction;
(b) damage or obstruct any fishway, fish stop or diverter constructed or installed on the Minister’s request;
(c) stop or hinder fish from entering or passing through any fishway, or from surmounting any obstacle or leap;
(d) damage, remove or authorize the removal of any fish guard, screen, covering, netting or other device installed on the Minister’s request; or
(e) fish in any manner within 23 m downstream from the lower entrance to any fishway, obstruction or leap.
The Moricetown Falls fishways were constructed by DFO’s forerunners many decades ago to ease passage for all species originating from points upstream in the Bulkley/Morice watershed. Pink salmon which were relatively rare in the upper watershed prior to the fishways (because they are the weakest swimmers among all Pacific salmon) flourished in their newly accessible habitat. In some years they clogged the fishway entrance on the Highway 16 side such that it was almost impossible to catch anything other than a pink at the site where the fisher was filmed on August 5.
All of this is well understood by the Wet’suwet’en, regardless of what a press release tries to imply. The platform from which the fisher operated never existed in any historical context, nor did the abundance of pinks that now dominate the catch at that point and time. Why is it that no one has ever paid the slightest attention to the absence of any enforcement of that ageless section of the Fisheries Act at the Moricetown Falls fishway?
I don’t believe the general public objects to where we find ourselves in terms of a greater share of publicly owned fish being allocated to First Nations. What people do object to is indiscriminate harvesting methods (e.g. gill nets) and bad behaviour around the use of potentially useful and non-lethal capture methods. Everyone needs to recognize there are too many people placing too much harvesting pressure on diminishing supplies of fish. First Nations should not be exempt from the standards that apply to everyone else just because governments are afraid to call a spade a spade. How long will fish stocks hold up if nothing ever changes? “
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