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Sts’ailes Fisheries

The Sts’ailes enjoy a long and culturally rich fisheries history

Pre-contact fish weirs still mark traditional use areas, archaeological remains prove that salmon has been key in the diet for thousands of years. Fish stories are throughout the cultural and oral traditions of the Sts’ailes.

Enhancement was introduced in the province at Weaver Creek in 1885. Federal enhancement facilities were built in 1965. The Band-operated Smokehouse Slough Hatchery came soon after on reserve lands, and in 1982 the Chehalis River Hatchery was built on the site.

Today, the Sts’ailes Development Corporation (SDC) operates four business lines including Commercial Fisheries, Planning, Science & Stewardship, and Governance.

The SDC operates terminal ESSR (surplus) commercial salmon fisheries on a mix of chum, sockeye and pink salmon at both facilities and contributes to enhancement programs. The SDC manages a web-based virtual warehouse to market its commercial fisheries, providing transparent practices and tracking of production to the marketplace. Selective fishing prevents depletion. A business ‘incubator’ supports entrepreneurship and potential fisheries co-operative with neighboring Scowlitz First Nation and other Sto:lo fisheries.

Food, social and ceremonial fisheries (FSC) for salmon take place in the Chehalis, Harrison and Fraser Rivers. Harvesting is monitored and reported by the Chehalis Fisheries Authority which also designates Chehalis members.

Salmon produced in Chehalis and Harrison River systems and the two facilities support the commercial and recreational fisheries in the Pacific Ocean, in the Fraser River, and in the Harrison and Chehalis Rivers. As well, steelhead, rainbow/cutthroat trout and Dolly Varden Char help to populate local recreational fisheries.

Today the Chehalis fishery employs over 35 full time equivalents, and enhancement facilities alone contribute combined operating revenues of over $800,000 per year.

Habitat enhancement includes Ed Leon Slough chum habitat restoration as well as twelve stock assessment projects from Whonnock to Hope. These provide seasonal employment and management capacity for the Chehalis community.

The Chehalis First Nation Fisheries Authority was created to link fishery decision-making and the traditional authority of the Chehalis Government. All Chehalis programs are operated as part of the Chehalis Community Vision. Strategic goals include:

  • Greater role of Chehalis governance and accountability in the territory
  • Increased sustainable businesses and employment capacity
  • Improved cultural and spiritual well being
  • Increased health and education

CLICK HERE to view 'River Manners' Video