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DFO hasn't ticketed Squamish volunteers for opening up dams blocking salmon

Authorities ask volunteers to get permission before working in the Stawamus River
Photo by John Buchanan

Representatives for Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and the Conservation Officer Service say they haven't issued any tickets related to man-made dams on the Stawamus River that were blocking pink salmon.

The comments follow rumours that officers may be fining people who were helping open up parts of the river that were seemingly dammed off to create bathing pools.

Teams of volunteers worked to break down the man-made blockages that could've stranded and killed substantial numbers of pink salmon trying to reach their spawning grounds.

On Aug. 29, the local Fisheries and Oceans and Conservation Officer Service offices told The Squamish Chief that they haven't issued any tickets to folks helping open up the structures.

"None of the officers out of this office have ticketed anyone in relation to the story," said fisheries officer Eric Jean. "I can tell you that flat-out."

The province's Ministry of Forests has also told The Chief they haven't issued any tickets with respect to this case.

But while conservation and the DFO say they haven't penalized any volunteers who've been helping clear out the blockages, they are asking people to get permission before helping out on the river.

Generally speaking, permits are required before people do any work on the river, Jean said.

"When it comes to any works, whether it be detrimental or positive... there are tools that somebody needs," he said.

"The authorizations need to be obtained from the department prior to doing so. So, if they're not obtained... they could potentially be exposed to scrutiny."

People should call the DFO's information line and ask before they help out, so as to mitigate any risk that they might be penalized.

The conservation service also had similar words.

"Obviously, those people want to do some good work," said Gravel. "So we would like to co-ordinate with those kind of initiatives. of course, they should have provincial authorization and connection with DFO, as well, prior to doing such work."

Ministry of Forests spokesperson Dawn Makarowski said, "To work within a stream, a permit is required under the Water Sustainability Act; this includes erecting or dismantling a dam. Without a permit, individuals may be subject to compliance enforcement action."

Jean also said that the DFO has yet to identify the people who allegedly built the dams blocking the salmon.

Anyone who knows about the incident, or would like to report future unrelated incidents can do so at: 1-800-465-4336.

Jean said that people who'd like to work on cleanups should first contact the general inquiries line for the Pacific Region Fisheries Protection Program at 1-866-845-6776 and leave a message.

This story originally appeared in The Squamish Chief on Aug. 30. Read it here.