Political Correctness

First of all, you have to ask yourself, why is there political correctness? The only answer is because you’re afraid to say what you honestly believe.

         Kurt Russel, Aug 4/17


Political correctness is the cancer that destroys democracies.

         Curtis Bevington Aug 4/17 in reply to Kurt Russel


Decisions taken with respect to First Nations fishing, first for Skeena chinook and, more recently, for Skeena sockeye are producing some predictable outcomes. Those outcomes aren’t all about fish. Consider a message received by ardent steelhead sport fisherman, Jim Benson, who has been around the Terrace through Hazleton, Kispiox, Smthers, Houston turf for decades. He’s not one to stay quiet when he makes observations of things that just don’t square with messages commonly espoused by those who would have us believe their world is fish first.

After witnessing an event in Terrace where local First Nations folk were barbequing freshly caught salmon for sale to all comers, Jim sent this to me personally. He felt it unsafe or, at least, unwise to deal with local media for fear of reprisal. Such is the climate of the moment. Contacting political representatives to register his views was also considered a useless exercise. One could hardly take issue with that.

I debated whether or not I would post this here. That personal reflection lasted until I received other, fully independent, first hand accounts of clandestine gill netting of sockeye by FN people up Babine way well before the recently announced opening, as well as the usual opportunities to buy FN caught salmon. There was even one on Face Book! With that I’m going with Jim’s message. Here is his unaltered transmission:


                   ON EGG SHELLS

“We coastal anglers walk a common road which has funneled us down to a very narrow path where we are now required to walk on egg shells. Political correctness lurks behind every tree, every turn and within every shadow where it commands our silence. Listen carefully and you will hear egg-shells crunch beneath my feet for I am going to say what every coastal salmon and steelhead angler from California to Alaska knows to be exactly true.

Politicians pander, small town politics are intertwined and history has been rewritten to manufacture a wall of political correctness created to filter out what I am about to say. Politicians have seized upon the power and resultant monetary gain they derive through alignment with indigenous people who seek to parlay their hold upon the fishery with our earnings through claims of sins by our forefathers. This they artfully perpetrate, while the sins of their very own forefathers are systematically scrubbed from history for the very same transgressions they chastise ours.  

Our children are raised in schools where any mention of indigenous conquest, slavery and even genocide committed between indigenous people prior to European settlement of North America is scrubbed from their curriculum. Conversely, the wrongs of our European forefathers are pounded into the brains of our children until they submit with feelings of shame and anger.  

Heretofore, I have not stated one untruth, but alarmed by the sound of egg-shells beneath my feet, ranks will mobilize to label me a bigot or attack my standing and silence my voice. I am not a bigot. I was raised by parents who would not tolerate such. I do not stand here against a people. Rather, I stand against an injustice people perpetrate as a wrong to right another wrong based upon misdeeds for which their forefathers committed the very same transgressions. 

I have fly fished all primary and many secondary coastal Pacific Northwest rivers for steelhead and salmon from California to Alaska and inland up the Columbia River Basin into Idaho and Okanogan tributaries. This story is the same for all I have fished but for this blog I am going to narrow this focus to the recent closure of the Lower Kalum river to accommodate the indiscriminate gill netting and beach seining of chinook salmon for “ceremonial” and food requirements. Additionally, the Canadian Department of Fisheries has allocated 30,000 sockeye for indigenous people to net in the Skeena River. Here are images of salmon harvested by the Kitsumkalum Band and sold in Terrace during Riverboat Day celebrations today 5-August. Hundreds of folks from Terrace and surrounding areas paid the band $10 a plate….


In years of plenty this would be one thing but this is not a year of plenty. This year the Skeena River fishery is in trouble. This is a year for cooperation. This is a year for all to conserve and sacrifice. I would suggest that the Indigenous people have pushed we sport anglers, and the environment far enough. Their forefathers caught salmon with grass and wooden fish traps constructed with stone bladed implements. They worked the river with canoes. This they could do to serve their “ceremonial” needs. There is absolutely no correlation to the modern methods they secure for themselves today vs. “what was (theoretically) taken from them”. Because they have secured from our politicians and courts the legal right does not mean they should shed their moral obligation and indiscriminately decimate the eco-system. This is the year 2017. Any and all theoretical wrongs are multiple generations behind any of us, yet we are forced to pay for their operations.

What to do, you ask?  What can be done?  Now that I’m through the egg shells I’ll run head on into the mine field….

It is our fault not theirs!  That’s right,… OUR FAULT!  In fact, I rather admire what they have perpetrated against us.  We have in effect succumbed to a form of modern day enslavement. They take our hard earned tax dollars. We go to work every day to support them. They have boats, trucks gill nets and other implements provided. They have casinos, gas stations and convenience stores which for all I know may operate free of taxation. They then take those profits and funnel monies back through lobbyists into political campaigns for favours that increase future tax money allotments and fishing rights. We purchase their goods and services to have our own money used against us to pay more taxes and yield our fishing rights to boot!  STOP THAT!  

The next thing we must do is teach our children what the self-serving politicians seek be forgotten. At least partially home school your children so they understand there was a time in history when people were either conquerors or conquered. Let them know that though it may have been a shameful time, they have nothing to be personally shameful of. Let them know that historically white, black and brown peoples all engaged in these activities even against their own peoples. Teach them to be respectful and get along with everyone but to also stand tall against those whom seek to diminish them because of actions during a bygone era of which they had no part. Tell them to stand and speak out if taught otherwise. As a parent, if you do this, most assuredly there will be a parent teacher conference in your near future but so be it. That will become your opportunity to stand tall and not be politically corrected into submission. Tell your school administrators that you expect them to teach your children history as it happened instead of their politically sanitized version.  

On a local political level take the time to sort out City Council and Mayoral candidates that do not represent sport angling interests. See to it they go on record before you vote for them. Do the same on provincial and national levels. Write editorial letters, comment on line, write letters to your government representatives and be active in campaigns of candidates who support sport fishing interest. Be heard, do not go quietly. Instead of fighting other sport angling methods, form a cohesive block of voting power.

I believe FN Bands are over-playing their hand. Their claim for “ceremonial” salmon is grossly over-played. Their blatant disregard for the environment is systematically destroying their public image. Their methods of modern gill nets, beach seining and fleets of supporting jet boats evidence their intent for commercial harvest and thereby wanton decimation of wild resources.  

Eventually their own actions will be their undoing. On a local level we see it, but in urban areas it is not understood. It is incumbent upon us to discuss these truths with those whom we know in both rural and urban areas. When FN people’s come door-to-door or otherwise market their gill netted and beach seined salmon do not buy it, not at any cost. For a fact, I know this happens in Terrace. I have been offered the same and even steelhead in a New Hazelton coffee shop. Encourage your friends not to consume “wild seafood” but seek responsibly farm raised seafood instead.  

We sport anglers must also move to higher ground and vote as a block.  We must be responsible for our own sport fishing practices and this year take a step above and beyond the regulations. There aren’t enough salmon to fill every freezer in Terrace and beyond.  It is possible there may never be enough here forward, however I am optimistic of mother nature’s resiliency. Oh yes, resist the calls for enhancement because those voices will follow this winter after the counts are public.They always do after a poor return. Keep the Skeena wild!

All the while we do this, please do so with respect and absent a mean spirit because that is how our story is best carried forward. That is how our story will gradually gain traction, our voting base multiplied and the environment better served. When we have turned a corner with critical mass, politicians will instead pander to our lobby.  

OR….. maybe, just maybe FN bands will come to recognize their over-play and join us on common ground to enact reasonable solutions. While we can hope for the later we must wage the former because without pressure it just won’t happen.  Do not buy FN goods and services and encourage others do the same.”

Comments 19

  • Do your homework before posting this nonsense. The sockeye being served was from the mass not the Skeena.


    • Interesting. I’m sure Jim Benson will be taking note. Remember, I’m just the messenger. I’ll add though, Nass sockeye (and chinook, and steelhead) are also in very poor shape this year. Recreational fishing for chinook was closed as a result. Of course, the Nass is always out of sight, out of mind relative to Skeena. By the way, is there any way of verifying the origin of those sockeye? Just asking. It seems a bit strange the Kitsumkalum folk would be selling Nisga’a origin sockeye, especially when the latter are in very short supply. Commercial fishing for Nass sockeye was shut down weeks ago in recognition of the run status and even joint Nisga’a and Gitanyow inland demonstration fisheries for sockeye in the Nass watershed were announced to have been put on the shelf due to poor returns. All that from the Aug 1 DFO weekly update.

  • Want it or not Jim Benson is a bigot and doesn’t know what he is talking about. It’s not because someone has been fishing on the west coast his entire life that makes him an expert in FN affairs.

    There’s over 50 000 grocery store in the US and Canada. Each of those store receive on average and depending on time of year approximately 300LB of salmon every week. For a total of 15 million pound of salmon EVERY WEEK. Approximately 70% of the salmon is Farmed fish. So 5 million pound of Wild salmon and 10 million pound of farmed salmon. And I’m not counting the thousands of fish market here, Since there’s no info on this I can find. When i go in a grocery store in Des Moines Iowa and see a giant display of salmon on ice. It piss me off. If they want salmon in the midwest then they should farm it right there in that state.

    In comparison with the first nation harvest, it doesn’t even compare one bit. The first nation have been harvesting for a long long time and never affected the salmon. We have to really start looking at the real problems. Every one want his salmon for dinner. I live in BC and go catch my own salmon for me and my family. And that’s it.

  • Brian:
    I feel that this is hardly nonsense. I am not personally familiar with the Nass River, but I have fished many BC rivers and it seems clear to me that just about every sockeye run in BC is a mere fraction of what it used to be. This is a serious concern and I worry about future generations of sockeye and also future generations of recreational & commercial fishermen. I have more faith in Bob Hooton than I do in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. If the numbers of sockeye are as low as we are led to believe, perhaps the the fish should be left in the river and FN could offer burgers or beef as a necessary temporary alternative until the sockeye numbers improve.

  • Hi. When are we going to stop blaming others for how Canada, through DFO has mismanaged the Skenna fishery. Historically there were a lot of Canneries up and down the coast until they over harvested the fish. Now the fish and canneries are gone. On the Skenna, DFO created an enhanced strain of fish on a couple of Babine tributaries. For years they have been trying to catch them at the coast through an unselective fishery. This has led to the decline of just about every other stock on the Skenna system. Steelhead included .For example where have the Morice and the Kitwanga River sockeye gone ? Into a commercial net.
    It’s time we stopped the commercial harvest of all things wild. You only have to look around the world to see the results. Look at our east coast cod fishery, gone, also managed by DFO. Skeena fish cannot feed the world.
    Now that stocks are low we blame the First Nations. They are taking too many fish etc, etc., .In Canada we negotiated with First Nations, in trade for the land we gave them certain rights. This included access to fish, game and taxation exceptions . So we went to work cutting down the forests, harvesting the fish and creating mines, the consequences of which we must live with for centuries. Good deal for us. Billions of dollars gained. Now that we have squandered these resources we are not happy with the deal we made. We are jealous of their access to fish and game. Our commercial harvest ruined the fishery, it was not ruined by the First Nations harvest.
    As For giving First Nations our hard earned tax dollars, nothing could be more untrue. First Nations are given monies from general revenues that are mostly made up of resource extraction royalties that the government has collected . Billions of dollars of fish, lumber products and minerals royalties have been extracted and only a pittance has been paid out to First Nations. Our standard of living in Canada is better because of the deal we made . Here is the Kispiox one farmer owners more land than all the residents of Kispiox Village. So who do you think really got the best of this deal?
    In the Skeena Region no treatys have been signed . It is unceded territory . And the Supreme Court of Canada states that because of this, First Nations must be consulted when it comes to the land and what’s on it.

    Before we start blaming First Nations for the state of the fishery we need to really look at the facts.

    We also need to be aware that steelhead are considered food fish by the Gitksan and usually harvested in winter. we need to begin to think of. First Nations as our allies in saving he Skeena Fishery. Like it or not they hold the keys to the future. Not DFO. DFO is the enemy and if they get their ways DFO will over harvest the fish until they are gone. Did you know that DFO has an aquaculture division which promote fish farms? They can’t even get that right because they promote ocean based fish farming which spreads disease and lice to our wild fish.
    (Check out Alexander Morton and her work on the truth about fish farms.)

  • In the rush to redress past injury to first nations our provincial and federal ministries are ignoring and running rough over carefully documented declines in river returns of all species. While every indigenous group in the province decries the declining returns, none seem willing to step up and champion the need to leave the runs to recover, free from all harvest. An efficient “traditional” fishery is now every bit as capable of decimating a return as past commercial fisheries were. Isn’t progress great? I mothballed my salmon gear many years ago. I doubt my sons will have any use for it other than as decorative memorabilia. It’s time we all let the runs recover, before there’s nothing left but pictures on the wall.

  • Small minded drivel from someone who obviously has not researched his position. I don’t see any wisdom in publicizing this individual’s parochial viewpoint….which contains numerous inaccuracies and false premises regarding First Nation’s fisheries and culture. I’m not willing, at this specific moment, to invest my time in correcting all the BS. I will say, however, that the fishing rights are a direct result of the fact that there have been no historic treaties achieved in Northwest B.C. ……they were not awarded as an apology to redress former injustices.
    I also do not support the timing of the requested Kalum Chinook closure, but I in no way agree with the simple minded content of this person’s letter.

    • Obvious correction to my previous comment… being the Nisga,a signing – 1998.
      Largely irrelevant to this discussion.

  • Rob and Bob- you guys don’t get it. We , Canada ,through DFO have decimated it the salmon runs. Fact. Now your assuming that First Nations are going to do the same? Why do you guys go on and on about how terrible First Nations are to the fish. Give us a balanced approach. Give them a chance. l am confident they will do a better job than we did. Time will tell. First Nations did not get us to where we are today. Time to work with them. The courts have decided that their right to fish is greater than ours.

    • I don’t see anyone is blaming First Nations. “We” are the problem. DFO is us, First Nations is us. Recreational anglers is us. The point everyone loses sight of when walking on those egg shells in the mine field of political correctness is what “we” are doing is not sustainable. If fish are the concern that everyone likes to pretend are at the root of their being, think fish or we will end up where we are headed.

      Just one additional comment from a historical perspective. The commercial fishing industry that has been the primary culprit through the entire history of Pacific salmon, especially on the Skeena, has been comprised of a very substantial number and proportion of First Nations participants. That remains so today. In my Skeena book I made the point that the FN fishers needed to decide whether they were coastal gill netters or in-river food, social and ceremonial fishermen. The fish can only be killed once. Also, all those early canneries you mention were populated almost exclusively with FN workers in what was a mirror image of the modern day “temporary foreign workers program”.

  • Where do I start? First, I’ll correct Bob H.,.. I have NOT fished the PNW for some multiple score of decades. For CS, I’m not a fossil. Just kidding Bob H…. Compared to many here, I am a newcomer but probably have fished a wider range of PNW rivers than most others as it is a full time occupation of sorts only with no income.

    Okay, so first off, I did not make even the slightest mention of the fish fry being Sockeye? Another commenter made the point that if they would have served up beef this year that would have shown a spirit of cooperation. That the case, no wind in my sail.

    On the subject of a hypothetical graphic statistical Wild Salmon Pie… Yes, the commercial harvest is by far the largest slice; Second would be FN harvest which also has a commercial component; Third, would be catch & kill and Fourth, catch & release. I have always climbed up on any available soap box pleading with anglers all to come together against the commercial segment of the harvest. Frankly, I always considered it useless to even attempt to shed any light on the SECOND slice of that pie because it’s politically untouchable. This confirms that opinion because we are all so wrought with gilt that forever funds will be usurped from government revenue sources to fund that slice of the pie so why bother.

    I didn’t expect anyone to stand with me because we are effectively all a bunch of conditioned PC eunuchs. Jeez Bob C, I expected folks to call me a bigot and attack my standing, but hit me both barrels with some kind of legal accounting ease and saying I’m blaming FNs for everything…. Two blogs ago you were advocating responsible salmon farms? Come at me for blaming FN for everything which I did not, then turn about-face on a dime to say a band eats winter Steelhead and we need to do something about that? I’m here for you on that one man!

    You have more experience in the specifics of which you speak and a far superior angler than I ever will be. Hats off, but… Broad brush, if funds commingled we will agree to disagree. Net net, if supporting dollars aren’t required, the overall cost of government would be reduced along with the required tax burden. In other words, those other sources of government income could buy down the cost of government which would be less if net of any cost category. There is no hocus-pocus with money anywhere outside of governments. Heck, they can and do just print shortfalls. We only wish.

    However, if FN costs are revenue neutral because of their contribution then let’s expand on that concept and all go on government auto deposit, quit working and pull nets for our food. Nobody needs to work and we’ll gill net the Skeena healthy. I’m left thinking we’d need to strip every resource from the land to pay down that short lived utopia.

    You are going to be hard pressed to get me to understand how modern gill and seine net operations are not impacting today’s Skeena concerns when one hundred percent of those fish, which escaped commercial harvest, were barbecued then processed down a toilet to a city sewage treatment facility instead of spawning then dying upstream thereby enriching fauna, flora and aquatic food chain to in turn enhance the survival rate of THEIR VERY OWN newly hatched Salmon and Steelhead. Okay, here is the compromise. Let’s load up trucks of taxpayer purchased responsibly farmed salmon and deliver them to all FNs in justifiable quantity for ceremonial purposes, and leave the Wild salmon in the river so bears can make it through the winter. That achieved I’ll fish hookless and support legislation everyone do the same including guides. Are we all happy now? No, didn’t think so.

    Look, I don’t blame FN “for the problem”, like you say. I do blame them for their slice of that problem pie. This year as I understand it the immediately adjacent Skeena commercial harvest in the salt was curtailed. Bob can expand on that. I’m a piker compared to his expertise.

    Your point taken. Maybe another slice of that pie should be attributed to the DFO. You guys hash that one out You know better than me. Frankly, I don’t know that I know anything anymore. The older I get the dumber I get. You guys have the answers, your doing a great job. Not many fish are going to show up the Kispiox this year though. I could be wrong but I don’t think Fisheries is listening?

    You guys call it. Nothing adds up to me with this discussion. I won’t advocate for anyone anymore. Effectively silenced.

    • I believe Chief Bill Cranmer of the ‘Namgis First Nation, which owns and operates the ‘Namgis First Nation Kuterra Closed-Containment Project, located just south of Port McNeill, is an astute business man. Supplying coastal FN communities with salmon that facility produces could be a good business opportunity. A sort of win-win-win situation; for the wild salmon stocks, for FN ceremonial and cultural requirements and for FN economy. It could become a closed containment coastal economy no longer reliant on the vagaries of harvesting wild fish stocks. A simplistic view; perhaps.
      That taken care of, and no longer part of the equation, would leave us with all the rest of the bad actors in this fisheries passion play. And that remains a long list indeed.

  • For multiple reasons we have a seriously reduced stocks of all anadromous fish and virtually all of those reasons are the result of human activities. We are the cause and only theoretically the solution. The ‘tragedy of the commons’ is upon us but the perpetrators and beneficiaries from these activities are sheltered in law and control of the administrators.
    Attacking a visible part of the use of a diminished resource is easy! Unfortunately, it is morally incorrect. It also doesn’t accomplish anything substantive in rebuilding fish stocks.
    Think about boycotting every business operated by Jimmy Pattison to force a reduction of stock harvesting if you want to rebuild wild fish stocks in the Skeena watershed.
    It helped preserve some ancient forests from harvest when an international boycott of those products was created.
    The way to change is through the pocketbooks of those who have the real control.

  • Well ,I was approached today to buy 100 sockeye for 3 bucks apiece, and trying to figure out if that’s for ceremonial purposes!!!

  • Reports back from locals venturing down to China Bar ( 35km approx.,up river on the Skeena from Prince Rupert ) for some bar fishing for Chinook stragglers on the past long weekend. For every salmon caught on a spin&glow 6 Steelhead were hooked unofficially. Some dragged onto the rocks do to not knowing the species identity!
    FN Nass River fishery open and was agreed to share with other bands along the Skeena – Bulkley locations. As of August 7 no sockeye from the fishery had arrived in Hazelton or moricetown. ??
    Not official but apparently 2 Sockeye per day are allowed from Meziadian Lake by anglers !
    A few repeat anglers targeting straggler springs and fresh Coho below Moricetown canyon. Some non-residence taking more than the daily limit and likely have in procession limit in a freezer someplace as it has been noticed by others that these same anglers making repeated trips to the location (idiot rock) in the same day!
    Only heard one jet boat navigating the river between Trout Creek and the Motown Canyon to date!
    Nightly river watch has turned up very little movement of Coho and very few Pinks. Still the odd Chinook breaking water in a very black/red colour stage!
    Trout Creek anglers have been low in number so far but as high as 7 seven vehicles parked on the shoulder. This causes grief to traffic as Hwy 16 has become very busy with truck traffic and recent reports of near head on misses with one being a very close call witnessed by myself !
    Time to take a stroll with a video camera and do some documenting.
    DFO and BC Conservation officers could likely use the extra eyes as they are spread far and wide these days!

  • Thing that make you Hummmmm….
    Three days ago in a Terrace major chain grocery a single whole 1/2 side fillet of Sockeye Salmon was selling for $5.50. Plus BUY ONE GET ONE FREE,. So effectively $2.75 for a full fillet.

    This morning I went to a Chilliwack grocery (same chain) and a single side whole Sockeye Fillet was $16.40!

    Like I said,… Hummmmmm. You be the judge.

    Native caught fish must be labeled in the States. The bad news about that is that much of it is Steelhead, depending on the State. This would all be the basis of some good investigative reporting.

  • Great debate here! When I read this, I didn’t feel that Jim Benson was solely blaming the Native people for the eradication of Salmon. I truly feel he was stating that it IS a problem. Anyway, being a redneck steelhead junkie from Utah, I have nothing intelligent to add to this conversation. I have only been fishing for steelhead for a few short years, but I have become very passionate about the species survival. Whether you look at this article as negative or not, at least it sparked a good debate on an issue that is very controversial…

    I’ll add my redneck $.02 to the issue in order of what I think would make a difference:

    1. All commercial fishing must stop! Whether it be white man or the Native people. Guide
    outfitters also included.
    2. Dam removal/habitat improvement must continue.
    3. Hatcheries must cease to exist. Even if it means way less fish for awhile, if 1&2 are
    accomplished, the wild fish will come back.

    Once fish numbers are back to historic numbers, we could keep the promises made to the Native Americans, and sport fishing, with responsible regulations, could be set in place. Win win for everyone!!! Everything is much easier said than done…

    Sounds like I need to plan a trip real soon to the fabled waters of BC, before it is over there too…

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