On the morning of Monday August 28, the shíshálh Nation’s Resource Management Department received three specimens of invasive Atlantic salmon, caught in the shíshálh Nation’s waters.
The fishers turning in the specimens were shíshálh Nation members who had been exercising their food, social and ceremonial (FSC) rights, fishing in the Sabine Channel on Sunday August 27, targeting pink salmon for shíshálh Nation elders.
The shíshálh fisheries biologist and staff confirmed all three specimens are Atlantic salmon. Necropsy was performed on the three specimens. Thus far the Nation confirms it was two females and one male Atlantic Salmon, averaging 7-10 pounds, the females with developing eggs. There is a high probability that the Atlantic Salmon are escapees reported on August 19 from Cooke Aquaculture fish farm in Washington State, located 80 nautical miles south of the shíshálh discovery. Unfortunately, the fish are not marked to allow for definitive source identification.
Shíshálh, best known as the salmon people, have long expressed opposition to the culture of non-indigenous salmonid species within their swiya (world/waters/lands/territory). The shíshálh Nation has a Marine Finfish Aquaculture Policy, which was developed “to reflect and carry forward the sacred trust we hold for current and future generations of the shíshálh People, in a manner which respects our Title and Rights, international legal standards, and the common law.”
According to shíshálh Chief Warren Paull: “While these Atlantic Salmon likely came from south of the border, it must be recognized that invasive species do not recognize borders. Now the question is not if, but when, these species are going to gain access to our streams. Our Nation has repeatedly raised questions and concerns for over 15 years about the farming of Atlantic Salmon. It seems the Federal and Provincial decision-making processes have been prioritizing the commercial interests of industrial finfish farms over our collective right to live as a distinct people with the wild, native fish populations and healthy marine environment that is central to our way of life. The discovery of escaped Atlantic Salmon in our waters is a source of grave concern. We take our responsibility to steward our rights for the benefit of both current and future generations of our people very seriously.”