Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.


The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

'Let First Nations manage fisheries': UBC prof

A UBC professor is making a case at the Cohen Commission for better recognition of traditional knowledge when it comes to salmon management in Canada.

A member of Oregon-based Cayuse Nation, David Close has been working in aboriginal fisheries for over 10 years. "I understand that there's consultations [between DFO and First Nations], but no meaningful dialogue," he said.

Dr. Close's testimony echoed opinions expressed on Tuesday by BC First nations. According to him, First Nations have traditionally done selective harvesting and their approach to conservation must be taken seriously. "There's about 8000 years of records of sustainable fishery [by First Nations]," he told the commission.

Dr Close compared the method used by western scientists with traditional knowledge used by First Nations. "Traditional method is similar to scientific method," he said. He explained to commissioner Cohen that both methods were based on observation. Traditional knowledge differs in the way it is transmitted, through oral testimony rather than in writing.

The use of this knowledge has been key to salmon restoration initiatives on the Columbia basin in the United States, the UBC professor pointed out.

Management of the salmon habitat in the Columbia River Basin is often cited as an example of success in terms of First Nations management. In 1977, various local First Nations came together to create the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC). At the time, neither the federal nor state governments were addressing the issue of salmon conservation effectively.

The CRITFC is now said to lead a comprehensive effort to restore salmon on the Columbia River basin "for the benefit of its member tribes and all people of the Pacific Northwest," through various means, including fundraising, habitat restoration, advocacy, and management and policy development. Columbia River basin hosts seven species of salmon, most of them threatened or endangered.

In light of the CRITFC example, Dr. Close asked for First Nations to be involved with the management of fisheries on Canadian soil. "We can do it, but we need a chance to do it," he said.

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus