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Okanagan sc’win (sockeye) Information and Updates

July 13th, 2022

Based on harvest information gathered since 2008, we are estimating a higher than average number of sc’win (sockeye salmon) to return to the Columbia watershed (and thus Okanagan subbasin) for the 2022 season. Returns of sc’win are monitored by tracking the numbers of fish that go through various dams and sites on the Columbia River. There is already roughly 553,172 sc’win counted at the mouth of the Columbia River — 83% above the average of 300,000 adults that tend to return per year. We estimate a total of 450,000 sc’win to make it to Wells Dam (on the Columbia River in central Washington), many of which will return to the Territory. At these levels, various fisheries have begun to open along the Columbia River — including opportunities for Syilx food and communal fisheries in the Okanagan sub-basin, alongside a small to medium scale commercial fishery in August 2022.

Food, Social and Ceremonial Fishery: With an abundantly high return of sc’win we are encouraging all Syilx members to get out and fish as part of a Food, Social and Ceremonial (FSC) fishery. Individual Syilx fishers, please be advised to fish nk’mip (Osoyoos Lake) and the sq̓ awsitkw (Okanagan River) downstream of Skaha from late June to July 31st, before water temperature become salmon “unfriendly” (above 21 degrees C). When going out to fish, please make sure to have your status card available, as Department of Fisheries and Oceans officers will be out periodically to ensure only Syilx Okanagan Nation members are fishing at this time. The FSC fishing will be prioritized between July 1 – August 1, 2022, with members being the only fishers out catching sc’win at this time. Individual members can continue to fish, but the Communal and Economic Fisheries will start on August 2 and end on August 31, 2022 at the latest.

Communal and Economic Fishery: Due to this exceptionally high return of sc’win, the ONA will conduct a communal fishery, whereby fish will be caught by seine boats, and distributed out to member communities throughout the month of August. The ONA’s communal fishery is tentatively planned for August 2 – 31, 2022. ONA will ensure the coordination of fish distribution to member communities. Please expect a higher allocation in early August, pending catches. ONA’s current goal is to distribute 5000-10000 sockeye to community.

ONA will also conduct an economic fishery as part of an ongoing strategic approach to recover some of the costs incurred by conducting the communal fishery and food fish distribution across the Nation.

In line with our commitment to being innovative and exploring best practices for resource use, we are launching a pilot project. We will split costs and catches for the communal and economic fishery – 50/50 with a contracted fisher. Cost recovery for operations will be shared evenly between the ONA and the contractor, alongside equal shares for catches. The hope is that this may innovate the way that we are able to make the communal fishery, and food fishery monitoring, financially sustainable.

As a means of ensuring integrity and transparency in this model, an ONA Harvest Coordinator will tally all fish landed at the dock in Osoyoos, with the fisher keeping a separate log of catch, alongside an independent third party, who will be counting and conducting quality inspections of fish for document comparison and quality assurance. ONA will be monitoring the returns and will end fishing prior to spawning activity at the end of August.

If successful, this model could potentially be used for other high abundant years but will be reviewed and considered in the future. We hope that this type of arrangement allows for the support of the communal harvest and distribution out to community — ensuring that this practice is sustainable for years to come

Recreational Fishery: Due to the abundance of sockeye returning a recreational fishery will most likely also be triggered in August, 2022. We are currently advocating and lobbying with Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans, who regulate recreational fisheries, to ensure that it is limited to a set number of days and times in the month of August.

For More Information Please Contact:

Harvest Planning Management

Richard Bussanich, ONA Biologist

Tel: 250-707-0095 ext. 108

Shayla Lawrence, ONA Biologist

Tel: 250-707-0095 ext.109

Landing Site and Ice Distribution

Michael Reid, Landing Site Manager

Tel: 250- 499-0617

Herb Alex, Equipment and Logistics Support
Tel: 250-707-0095 ext. 354

Communal Harvest Distribution
Menno Salverda, Nation Planner Health
Tel: 250-707-0095 ext. 227

Community Bulletin – sc’win Update