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Feds continue talks with Stz'uminus band about fishery-blockade threat

by Peter Rusland - Cowichan News Leader Pictorial

Continuing talks are apparently preventing action by Stz'uminus band members threatening to block non-Natives from their traditional fishing grounds.

"At this time, the Stz'uminus First Nation has not blocked any fishery in their claimed traditional territory," staff at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans staff told the News Leader Pictorial Friday.

"Officials are engaged in ongoing discussions with the Stz'uminus to understand their concerns and interest.

"This strong working relationship has resulted in the Stz'uminus acquiring program funding and fishing opportunities in line with their objectives."

The feds were answering the Leader's questions first asked May 7 when the band announced its looming blockade — coinciding with Cowichan area's current prawn season.

"The department has been working with the Stz'uminus First Nation for a number of years.

"Fisheries and Oceans Canada regularly consults with First Nations about fisheries taking place in or near their fishing areas," DFO's email says.

"When creating fisheries management plans, the department must balance the views and interests of a wide range of parties and First Nations.

"This is done by inviting First Nations to review and provide input on draft integrated fisheries management plans; to sit on integrated fishery advisory committees; and to meet bilaterally with the department to discuss their specific fishing plans."

However, Ottawa is prepared to take action, if necessary, to keep fishing area opens to all users, the feds signalled.

"When needed, DFO and the RCMP work with fishers and members of First Nations to ensure the safety of everyone on the water. We stand strongly against violence on the water," staff says.

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