WILLIAMS LAKE, BC - Mar. 20, 2018 - Due to immediate threat, the Tŝilhqot’in National Government (TNG) has closed all fishing of the endangered Chilcotin River Steelhead Trout. Given the 81% population decline, the Tŝilhqot’in Nation is forgoing their collective Aboriginal right to fish Steelhead for food, social and ceremonial purposes. Steelhead fishing is a hugely important Tŝilhqot’in cultural practice, so closing this fishery means that Tŝilhqot’in aboriginal rights are already being infringed.
After an Emergency Assessment this year, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) assessed the Chilcotin River Steelhead Trout as “Endangered” and recommended an Emergency Order under the Species at Risk Act. The COSEWIC panel identified two major causes of decline – a. Ocean conditions and b. Bycatch from commercial fisheries.
Given these dire numbers, the TNG has also called on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to eliminate all bycatch from the commercial Pacific salmon fisheries. DFOs continued mismanagement of the Chilcotin River Steelhead Trout must stop for the survival of this stock.
TNG also expects that both the Federal and Provincial governments, including the Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, will engage in a Nation-to-Nation conversation with the Tŝilhqot’in about the future of the Chilcotin River Steelhead along with the impact that decisions may have on Tŝilhqot’in Aboriginal rights.
Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chairman, Tŝilhqot’in National Government, says, "Our Steelhead Trout are facing a serious crisis right now that cannot be ignored. We are imposing an immediate closure on the fisheries for our people. All sectors within government and business need to take this decline in population numbers very seriously. The Tŝilhqot’in territory is at the end of the line for the Steelhead migration, meaning that we have to make the most sacrifices in protecting this population. We call on all levels of government to improve the health of our Steelhead.”
FACTS from COSEWIC Report:
· COSEWIC conducted an Emergency Assessment of The Chilcotin River Steelhead Trout on January 10, 2018
· There are 58 confirmed Chilcotin River Steelhead Trout – an 81% decline over 18 years.
· The estimated mortality rate from all bycatch in commercial fisheries is in the range of 15-25% annually.
· The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans will be making a decision in the coming weeks about whether steelhead bycatch will be allowed, through the approval of DFO’s Integrated Fisheries Management Plan.
· The Thompson River Steelhead are also facing severe declines and were included in the COSEWIC Emergency Assessment.
There are numerous expected outcomes of the TSF. This includes generation of clean energy, redevelopment of a closed sawmill and adjacent brownfield site, support to local communities, and creation of employment and business opportunities. Through the purchase of power generated from the TSF, the Electricity Purchase Agreement (EPA) will ensure the success of the TSF through the final implementation stage and the future years while in operation.
The Nation would like to thank the hard work and dedication of Chief Russell Myers Ross along with his community of Yunesit’in in pursuing and leading this project. We would also like to thank EcoSmart for their many contributions to this endeavor.
Chief Russell Myers Ross, Vice Chair, Ts^ilhqot’in National Government, says, "I have been fortunate to participate on this initiative for the past four years with a dedicated team and looking forward to the construction date this summer. The solar farm is a chance to build infrastructure that will benefit the region by strengthening the hydro line and provide revenue to the Ts^ilhqot’in communities.
There has been a lot of work put into this project over the past four years, from feasibility to design, financing and working with BC Hydro towards implementation. The solar farm is significant as it will be owned and operated by the Ts^ilhqot’in Nation and will become own-source-revenue to support the communities' economic aspirations in the future."
Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chairman, Ts^ilhqot’in National Government, says, “Since having our Aboriginal title recognized we have been looking for diverse opportunities within our territory. The development and operation of this solar farm is not only useful for the area, but also brings employment and training to our Nation. As a Nation we have always said that to do business with us you need to come through our doors and sit at the table in a meaningful way. The solar farm is a great example of that.”
Michel de Spot, President and CEO of EcoSmart, says, “Solar energy is the fastest growing and most promising technology in the world. Building the largest solar photovoltaic system in BC makes the Ts^ilhqot’in Nation de facto leaders in cleantech development.”
WILLIAMS LAKE, B.C. - Mar. 15, 2018 - The Ts^ilhqot’in National Government (TNG) applauds BC Hydro for their recent plan to pursue power purchase agreement negotiations with the Ts^ilhqot’in Solar Farm (TSF). Located within the Ts^ilhqot’in territory, once completed, the TSF will be the first large-scale solar power plant owned and operated by a First Nation in western Canada.