As a traditional food, fuel and medical resource for Aboriginals, eulachon (Thaleichthy pacificus) are a thin, silvery fish protected from commercial fisheries so that only First Nations can maintain a fishery for them. Traditionally, in rivers such as the Skeena and Nass, there were three or four runs per year and each of these was used for a different purpose due to changes in oil content in the fish. The abundance of eulochon, or oolichan, decreased in the 1990s and resulted in the closure of the Fraser River eulochon fishery. Once important as a trade item, eulachon were also called candlefish because dried eulachon are sufficiently oily to burn like a candle. Trade routes from the coastal fisheries to inland tribes, like the one Alexander Mackenzie used to reach the Pacific, were known as grease trails in reference to the importance of the eulachon trade. Allene Drake and Lyle Wilson are co-authors of Eulachon: A Fish to Cure Humanity (1991).


Drake, Allene & Lyle Wilson. Eulachon: A Fish to Cure Humanity (UBC Museum of Anthropology, 1991).

[BCBW 2004] "Fishing" "First Nations"