Bella Coola Valley. (Scott Carrier photo)

Bella Coola Valley. (Scott Carrier photo)

Nuxalk Nation closes recreation, sports fisheries at Bella Coola due to COVID-19 concerns

Nobody is supposed to be travelling, said marine use manager Peter Siwallace

The Nuxalk Nation is calling on the provincial government to support its closure of recreation and sports fishing in Nuxalk territory, which encompasses the Bella Coola Valley.

Peter Siwallace, marine-use coordinator for the Nuxalk stewardship office, said the move to close the sport fishery is necessary due to risks of COVID-19 exposure, and is consistent with the current B.C. emergency orders.

“People shouldn’t be going from one district zone to another one unless it’s for essential purposes,” said Siwallace. “We don’t want an influx of people here that could potentially bring in COVID. We are afraid of that.”

Siwallace said the Nation sent a letter to provincial health minister Adrian Dix and federal health minister Patty Hajdu on Friday, May 14, asking them not to authorize any more licenses for river or saltwater fishing because of COVID. The letter was signed by both Elected Chief Wally Webber and Hereditary Chief Mike Tallio.

Last year the Nation also requested Fisheries and Oceans Canada to put in a six-mile boundary limit for fishing.

“We asked them to monitor it, but things basically got out of hand and the fishermen came right into the port. So we entered into another memorandum of understanding requesting they step up their efforts this year to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said.

Read more: Opening of salmon fishery in Area 8 opposed by Nuxalk Nation

Nuxalk Nation is following the province’s lead in implementing a travel ban, he said.

“Nobody is supposed to be travelling in the province. If the province says ‘it’s closed,’ then we will abide by that and enforce it at this end, with precautions in place, of course.”

The hospital in Bella Coola has 15 beds and if the area had a massive number of COVID-19 cases the hospital would not be able to accommodate everybody, he added.

Second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been given to the elders in the Nation, but not young people.

So far the Nation has not set up a check-stop on the highway but at least four people have been approached and asked to turn around and leave, which they did.

“It’s other people that are just coming in whether we talk with them or not. They drop their boats into the ocean here, park their trucks and trailers on the side of the road,” Siwallace said, noting he counted 10 trucks with boat trailers on the weekend.

Siwallace said the Nation is expecting people to respect the travel ban.

According to the latest orders by the Provincial Health Officer (PHO) and Emergency Program Act (EPA), travel restrictions for non-essential travel in B.C. are in place until May 25, after the Victoria Day long weekend, to stop the spread of COVID-19 and variants of concern. Fines can be given to people who leave their region for non-essential travel.

Under the EPA, an order restricting non-essential travel between certain regions of the province is in place until May 25 at midnight. This includes travel for: Vacations, weekend getaways and tourism activities, visiting family or friends for social reasons and recreation activities.

Travel regions

According to the provincial government, the order combines B.C.’s five health authorities into three regions of the province. Travel into and out of the regions for non-essential reasons is not allowed and is now prohibited by law. The regions are:

Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley (Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health).

Northern/Interior (Northern Health and Interior Health, including Bella Coola Valley, the Central Coast and Hope).

Residents from the Hope area can travel to Chilliwack for essential goods and supplies.

Residents from the Bella Coola Valley and Central Coast area can travel to Port Hardy for essential goods and supplies.

“Do not go on long trips within your region. Now is not the time for overnight vacations away from your community. Stay close to home. Visit your local beach, hiking trail or park,” notes the B.C. government website on travel restrictions.

Essential travel between regions is allowed.

RCMP checks will be located at Highway 1 in the Boston Bar area, Highway 3 in the Manning Park area, Highway 5 in the Old Toll Booth area and at Highway 99 in the Lillooet area.

Read more: B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Editor’s note: More information regarding the travel ban and travel regions has been added to the original story.



news@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

First NationsFisheries and Oceans CanadaFisheries lawNews

Just Posted

A Baker Creek tour from 2019 with a group of students - tours will be much smaller in 2020 due to COVID-19 prevention measures. (Submitted Photo)
Baker Creek Nature Explorers plans for full summer in Quesnel

The day program will run twice a week for two age groups

Environment Canada has issued a thunderstorm watch for the Cariboo north including Quesnel. (Black Press file image)
Environment Canada issues thunderstorm watch for Quesnel

A chance of thundershowers is forcasted to last until Tuesday

The Gold Pan Grannies attended the Quesnel Farmers’ Market where they sold perennials and vegetable plants and fruit trees by donation Saturday, May 29. They were able to raise $1,000 for the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Gold Pan Grannies raise $1,000 for Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign

Annual plant sale at Quesnel Farmers’ Market a success

Amy Vardy is one of four dancers to compete in their final year of the Quesnel Festival of the Performing Arts. (Submitted Photo)
Quesnel Festival of the Arts graduating dancer profile: Amy Vardy

The Quesnel Festival of the Performing arts is honouring their graduating dancers

Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)
RANCH MUSINGS: Predictions of climate variability and effects on agriculture

Oliver Rujanschi, we will miss you and the warmth that you were. Sorry friend

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Ivy was thrown out of a moving vehicle in Kelowna. Her tail was severely injured and will be amputated. (BC SPCA)
Kitten thrown from moving vehicle, needs help: Kelowna SPCA

The seven-month-old kitten had severe tail and femur injuries

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the ‘hockey hub’ mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on Friday, June 4, 2021. This NHL-sized hockey rink is one of CanadaÕs largest vaccination centres. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
‘Vaxxed to the max’: Feds launch Ask an Expert campaign to encourage COVID shots

Survey shows that confidence in vaccines has risen this spring

Port Alberni court house (Alberni Valley News)
Inquest set into 2016 death of B.C. teen after a day spent in police custody

18-year-old Jocelyn George died of heart failure in hospital after spending time in jail cell

Children’s shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop ‘appalling’ live horse export, slaughter

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Most Read