Friday, February 20, 2015

Reef-net Between Two Canoes

Traditional fishing methods are not only the use of a simple hook and line, or tickling fish in a stream. There are surprisingly effective technologies for catching fish, technologies that were used traditionally by First Nations people, and some of these methods relied on the use of small boats. Saltwater fishing techniques were developed to a science by the Coast Salish people.
But the use of Salish reef-nets fell out of practise when these nets were banned by the Canadian government over a hundred years ago. It was only through the efforts of several people living on the Saanich peninsula (in and near the city of Victoria, BC) that the first reef-net in a hundred years has been built and put to use, supported by two traditional sea-going canoes.
Leading their project is Nick Claxton (XEMŦOLTW̱), a member of the Tsawout community and a PhD candidate at the University of Victoria in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. He worked with a local school and members of the W̱SÁNEĆ nation to build a model of a traditional reef-net. Then, with the help of relatives from the Lummi Nation just across the border in Washington state, Nick and his associates built a reef-net in the traditional style. They put it to use on August 9, 2014, at a hereditary fishing location off Pender Island, as shown in this video they posted on YouTube.

Both of the sea-going canoes shown in this video are marvellously stable craft. It's interesting to see different elements of design in the bows and keels of these small boats! And though the paddlers in these traditional-style boats are not wearing life jackets, at least there are PFDs visible inside the boats for the paddlers to kneel on.
If you're wondering what's so different about one net compared to another, well, there can be a lot of differences! This isn't a little net held and retrieved by one person. A reef-net is suspended between two large canoes. The upper part of the net is attached to floats, and the lower part is held down by weights.
If the video of this net being used doesn't load on your screen, you can click here to see a six-minute video, showing the project and the reef net being deployed between the canoes.

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