Tr’ochëk: Protecting the Salmon
At First Fish Camps, youth learn about safe boating, modern and traditional salmon harvesting practices and the principles of stewardship. L-R, front row: Jared, Chase Everitt, Daniel Carr; middle row: T.J. Gaudet, Jen Meirau; back row: Derek Scheffen and Nick Close.
For many, these strips of smoked salmon or the drier salmon jerky is one of the ultimate treats.
Although both the Yukon and Alaska began regulating the salmon fishery in the early 1900s, the approaches have changed over the years. By the 1920s, both governments recognized the difference between commercial and subsistence fishers, and the need for different regulations for each. Both governments set a high priority on the aboriginal fishery. If salmon returns are low, limits are first placed on the commercial fishery, then on domestic and sport fishing, and lastly on aboriginal fishers.
Today the management of Yukon River salmon fishing is a difficult and sometimes controversial issue. It requires international agreements between the United States and Canada as well as recognition of land claim agreements. Both Canadian and Alaskan governments consult with First Nations people.
In the Yukon, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is ultimately responsible for the management of Yukon salmon. Since 1995 they have worked with the Yukon Salmon Sub-Committee, established under Yukon Land Claim Umbrella Final Agreement. The committee, made up of First Nations and non-First Nation members, represents all Yukoners and makes recommendations on all matters relating to salmon. They also represent the Yukon in Pacific Salmon Treaty negotiations between Canada and the United States.
One of the key tools for managing the salmon stocks is the traditional knowledge of the First Nation Elders.