Nuxalk: Disappearance of Oolichans
Oolichans that used to be plentiful in the Bella Coola river of the Nuxalk have now completely disappeared. Climate change and/or intensive shrimp trawling might be to blame.
Below is an article published by the
There was a time when oolichan were so plentiful in the
Then, about 10 years ago, they were gone. It really was that drastic, Morton says.
Now it's got to the point that when members of his village go in search of them, "we're excited to find one," he says.
Children in the village have never even heard of them -- something extraordinary, he says, given that for most of Nuxalk history the small oily smelt was as integral to life as the river itself.
That's why on June 11 and 12 Morton and other Nuxalk representatives are organizing a gathering in Bella Coola to raise awareness of the importance of the fish in Nuxalk culture and to look for ways to reintroduce it to the river.
Federal Fisheries and Oceans attributes the disappearance to climate change, but Morton points to "unprecedented levels" of shrimp trawling in the 1990s that resulted in a huge bycatch, that included thousands of oolichan.