Alberni families hand net salmon in traditional First Nations food fishery


The annual migration of coho and chinook salmon is underway and is completing an essential part of many Alberni families’ preparations for winter.

It was a full-on family effort as Tom Tatoosh, his sister Roxanne Tatoosh, and their late brother’s sons together pulled in fish Monday that will fill their smokers and freezers for winter.

“It’s what our family really has lots of fun doing,” said Roxanne Tatoosh, a member of the Hupačasath First Nation.

As Alberni Valley rivers and streams fill with spawning coho and chinook in big numbers, First Nations food fisheries are now netting a portion of what’s headed upstream to feed local families.

Hupačasath and Tseshaht fishermen can be seen on boats and on foot on riversides’ hauling in salmon by hand in an annual tradition of fall taught to them by generations before them.

“This is something to get fish like this. It’s wonderful,” said Sydney Dick, a member of the Tseshaht First Nation.

According to fishermen, what salmon has been caught so far looks big and healthy, which suggests ocean conditions have been good.

“The weather was perfect for a fish migrating. The chinook look okay, the coho they’re making it through. We’re looking pretty good right now,” said Tom Tatoosh, a member of the Hupačasath First Nation. “So we’re basically after the tail end of all the quotas that has been reallocated,” said Tom Tatoosh.

“We just love being out here even if it’s low. We just gotta do what we do best,” said Roxanne Tatoosh.

This Alberni food fishery is expected to last just a few more days, before families then busy smoking and canning their catch.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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