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Sockeye returns to the Fraser River this summer will be so poor that the federal government has asked 94 native bands in the watershed to come up with a catch-sharing plan that, for the first time, may involve "salmon rationing."
Native leaders say such meagre catches are forecast that people who have always had sockeye as a staple of their traditional diet might not get any this summer.
"The salmon that are harvested will need to be rationed between and among the bands. And the individual bands may have to ration salmon inside their communities," said Ernie Crey, a director of the Sto:Lo Nation fisheries program.
"They will very likely be forced to create priority lists for salmon. Very likely the able-bodied will do the fishing. But the leaders may be forced to say first priority for who gets the salmon are the elderly, single moms and those on welfare," said Mr. Crey, whose organization represents about a dozen bands on the lower river.
"...The government calls it a sharing plan, but that is really a euphemism for the rationing of salmon," he said.
Although other species, such as chum and late-summer chinook, are forecast to be numerous enough to support fisheries, the loss of sockeye is a blow, because the oil-rich salmon are considered the mainstay of the native diet on the Fraser.
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Tags: B.C. Fishing, Sockeye Salmon, Native Canadians, Fraser River, British Columbia