Members of the Heiltsuk Nation have occupied and served a Department of Fisheries and Oceans office near Bella Bella with an eviction notice.
It’s the latest move in an ongoing dispute over a controversial herring-roe fishery, where the aboriginal band is worried there isn’t enough stock to support the harvest.
Chief Marilyn Slett admits the move was a last resort but says the Heiltsuk Nation remains open to negotiations.
“We’ve seen two collapses of herring over some of our elders lifetimes here in the community. If the Department of Fisheries and their management can talk to us and negotiate with us shutting down this fishery… we’re not saying forever, but we’re saying while the stocks are this low. We’re mariners as well, we make our way of living that way as well.”
“If the DFO wants to operate and have an office here in our traditional territory, then they ought to be working with us and respecting our laws as well.”
Several other First Nations bands have spoken out about the sustainability of the herring fishery.
Last week, a first wave of fishing opened and netted hundreds of tonnes of herring; a second one is expected today.