Okanagan Nation Territory (Westbank, British Columbia): Starting June 6, 2017, the Okanagan Nation Alliance’s (ONA) kł cp̓əlk̓ stim̓ Hatchery will be providing sockeye salmon fry for releases taking place at 6 Mile Creek, Trout Creek, and Mission Creek. The releases of 230,000 fry are in recognition and celebration of the Syilx peoples’ continued successful efforts to bring sockeye salmon back to the Okanagan, and since 2016 to Okanagan Lake.
“The return of our sc ‘win (sockeye salmon) to Okanagan Lake is our fundamental and inherent right and responsibility as Syilx people,” states Grand Chief Stewart Phillip.
Howie Wright, ONA’s Fisheries Manager points out that “We now have another cold water lake [after Osoyoos and Skaha Lake] to help us build resilience in sockeye salmon stocks. Based on its size and depth we could see Okanagan Lake with a minimum of 30,000 -100,000 adult spawners per year. On top of that optimistically anywhere from 300,000- 500,000 for fisheries harvest would be coming to the Okanagan Basin to support the historical fishery at Okanagan Falls. It has the significant potential to meet food, social, and ceremonial needs, providing food security for communities, while seeing a surplus extend to a broad range of biological and economic benefits”.
These ceremonies are critical given that sockeye salmon were nearly extinct in the Okanagan Basin. In the 1960’s the Columbia River Treaty and habitat impacts in the Okanagan basin led to the creation of industrial reservoirs, and the building hydro-electric developments on the Columbia River, making it impossible for fish passage, while deeply impacting Syilx cultural and food systems. Years of hard work and political advocacy, particularly in the last decade, have seen the ONA working with provincial, federal and US Tribes and agencies to rebuild this sockeye run from 3000 up to 500,000 salmon returning annually.
Fry Release Schedule:
June 6 & 8, 2017 – 6 Mile Creek on Okanagan Indian Band
June 7, 2017 – Trout Creek on Penticton Indian Band
June 9 & 10, 2017 – Mission Creek on Westbank First Nation
The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) was formed in 1981 as the inaugural First Nations government in the Okanagan, which represents the 8 member communities of the Okanagan Nation. The ONA’s kł cp̓əlk̓ stim̓ Hatchery is central to our conservation efforts. The 25,000 square foot hatchery has the capacity to rear 8 million eggs, and is currently equipped to handle all fish culture aspects required for 5 million eggs from brood stock management until fry release.
For further information please contact:
Howie Wright, ONA Fisheries Manager