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lilloet fish ban

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The Lillooet Tribal Council — which represents 11 First Nations bands — has issued a notice to advise the public and government officials that any trespass on their traditional territory without written permission from the St’at’imc leadership will be deemed to be an infringement on their aboriginal fishing rights. The traditional territory stretches from Mount Currie in the south to Pavilion, near Cache Creek, in the north. It includes Port Douglas and the Fraser River at Lillooet, reaching almost to Harrison Lake. Tribal chief of the Lillooet, Mike Leach, said the notice is basically aimed at provincial Department of Fisheries and Oceans officials who have issued a ban on sockeye fishing in the Fraser. This has angered the chiefs who say this is the only time of year First Nations can fish for their drying racks. They are defying the ban and the trespass notice is their way of putting their collective foot down, said Leach. "We are saying to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, don’t interfere with us. Don’t trespass on our food fishery. We have to fish at this time of year. There is a certain time we can dry. If we are told no fishing. What could the leaders do? The anger would spill over and it wouldn’t stay on the fishing rocks," said Leach. "It would end up spilling onto the roads and all kinds of things. The chiefs took the lead and this is what we are going to do." Leach said no aboriginal fisheries agreement has been signed with the St’at’imc people and the DFO does not have the authority to make these decisions. Their release states the St’at’imc people are prepared to defend their right to their sacred food supply. "Canadians have no right taking food from us." They said the real problem in preserving the provincial fish supply lies with industrial pollution and over zealous commercial fishing interests which, unless checked, will continue to destroy one of the last large food fisheries in the world. The 11 bands represented by the tribal council are: Bridge River, Cayoose, Fountain, Pavilion, Lillooet, Seton Lake, Douglas, Skatin, Mount Currie, Samahquam and Anderson Lake (N’Quatqua).

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