In the 1960’s the Stellako became the epicenter of an inter-jurisdictional controversy in BC surrounding the now outdated logging practices of log drives.
The technique involved dropping fresh logs into a headwater lake blocked by a removable log dam. When released the flush of water and logs saved money in log transport but left behind its devastating effects on fish habitats.
With many parallels around BC including the Quesnel, Adams, and Kitsumkalum Rivers, it was the local economies around Fraser Lake that pitted the Provincial government against the Federal government. The Stellat’en found themselves unwilling bystanders in the fight between unsustainable logging practices and a coastal industrial fishery, neither of which would survive in their current form beyond the next century. The sockeye runs were greatly diminished before log drives were outlawed in 1973, and a sockeye spawning channel was eventually constructed on the Nadina River in an effort to boost Francois Lake’s sockeye to help revive the run.
is fishery produces on average 0.5 – 1 million lbs of salmon (sockeye, chum, pink, coho, and Chinook). Harvesting occurs through a variety of methods, locations, and times (to ensure selectivity), and operates through a membership of more than 200 designated Community fishers. The cooperative landing site and incentives for entrepreneurial growth recruit the fishers into finding solutions around responsible fishing practices (including effective governance), improved prosperity for fishers (value-adding), and catch accounting (including traceability).