04/04/2013 01:27 EDT | Updated 06/04/2013 05:12 EDT

Aboriginal leaders urge total ban on Fraser River early chinook fishery

VANCOUVER - The Union of BC Indian Chiefs is calling on First Nations to suspend all fishing for Fraser River early chinook salmon, and it's demanding the federal government halt all non-aboriginal fisheries for the same run.

This is the third consecutive year the group has called for a complete ban on fishing of the early salmon run to allow for its continued recovery.

The union's vice president, Chief Bob Chamberlain, says all levels of government, and particularly the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, must take immediate and meaningful steps to protect early chinook runs.

He says ensuring the recovery and restoration of the stock is important to the continued survival as indigenous peoples.

UBCIC president Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the early chinook stocks returning through the Fraser River and into the Nicola and Thompson systems have seen drastic declines.

Phillip accuses DFO of what he calls "poor and sloppy" management of the entire Fraser system, allowing further deterioration of the river's salmon stocks.