An open letter to Jim Pattison, Chairman and CEO of the Jim Pattison Group:
The Heiltsuk Nation has prohibited a commercial seine and gillnet sac roe herring fishery for Area 7 on the Central Coast from taking place in 2015.
Our Nation has attempted to relay this message on multiple occasions, most recently at a meeting between Gladstone Reconciliation Society representatives and the Herring Industry Advisory Board on March 16th in Vancouver. It appears that our efforts to protect the herring stocks have fallen on deaf ears again.
Herring stocks have not yet recovered enough from years of overharvesting to support a sac roe fishery.
A sac roe opening at this time has the potential to further decimate the rebuilding of the herring stocks and cause irreparable damage to our community. We have relied on herring as a food source and form of currency for millennia, and depleted herring stocks affect our ability to exercise our aboriginal rights as defined in the Supreme Court of Canada’s 1996 Gladstone Decision.
The Heiltsuk Nation owns two gillnet licenses, but we will not be leasing them this year due to conservation concerns. In a community with high unemployment such as ours, this decision was not taken lightly. It is a sacrifice we must make now in order to safeguard for our future.
We appreciate the leadership and understanding of the situation that the United Fisherman and Allied Workers’ Union – Unifor has shown by its recommendation to its members not to select the Central Coast as an area to fish herring this year, as outlined in an open letter to the Council of the Haida Nation, the Heiltsuk Tribal Council and B.C. commercial herring fishermen dated January 20, 2015.
We request that you follow suit and give notice that your company will comply with the 2015 closure. By allowing herring stocks to recover now, we hope to all benefit from this precious resource again in the future.
We look forward to your response.
Chief Councillor, Heiltsuk Tribal Council 250-957-7721
William Gladstone Sr.
Chief Negotiator, Gladstone Reconciliation Office 250-957-7977