An Aquatic Effects Study for the Ferry Crossings near Tsiigehtchic and Ft. McPherson, NT

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: physical sciences, water quality, hydrology, fish, traditional knowledge, habitat, fisheries

Principal Investigator: Parlee, Brenda L (16)
Licence Number: 13209
Organization: GeoNorth Northern Environmental Consulting
Licenced Year(s): 2002 2001
Issued: Jun 25, 2001
Project Team: Steve Kokelj, Dan Andre, Dennis Krochak, Hal Mills, Holly Newton, Ann Rocchi, Bob Pett, James Ross, Natasha Thorpe, Neil van der Gugten, Betty-Anne Vittrewka

Objective(s): In 1998, public concern over the construction and operation of the GNWT Department of Transportation's ferry landings in the Gwich'in Settlement Area triggered a requirement for the Department to apply for two Class "B" Water Licenses from the Gwich'in Land and Water Board to operate the M.V. Louis Cardinal and C.F. Abraham Francis ferries near Tsiigehtchic and Ft. McPherson. As outlined in the Water Licenses issued for these two sites, the Department must conduct an Aquatic Effects Study at each ferry landing site. GeoNorth Ltd., in partnership with AMEC Earth and Environmental Ltd. and James Ross and Company (GeoNorth-AMEC-Ross) has been contracted to complete this Study. This Study emphasizes community consultation and capacity building, the use of traditional knowledge and expertise, and selection for northern hiring, goods and services. The Study and its results will contribute to the Department of Transportation's understanding of the aquatic effects of the ferry crossings on the Mackenzie and Peel rivers, provide capacity (skills and knowledge) to the communities of Tsiigehtchic and Ft. McPherson, as well as contribute to regional baseline knowledge, and to programs such as the Mackenzie Valley Cumulative Impact Monitoring Program.

Project Description: The Aquatic Effects Study will include the general components of fisheries, water quality, river hydraulics, ferry landing operations, and traditional knowledge (TK). The specific Study objectives are as follows: (1) Complete an assessment of fish habitat quality including photographs; (2) Determine which fish species utilize the area; (3) Collect Gwich'in TK in relation to fish and fish habitat. The research team will ensure all participants are fully informed about the project objectives, and will obtain informed consent before asking any questions. Participation in the Study is completely voluntary, and all answers will be kept confidential; (4) Assess age and size class distribution of fish species utilizing the area adjacent to the area of ferry operation; (5) Collect and analyze baseline water quality information, including turbidity, TSS, velocity and temperature at ferry landing sites and 100 m up and downstream; (6) Investigate substrate types and sediment loading into the system (natural vs. due to ferry operation); (7) Conduct a hydrological study of the system, focusing specifically on eddy formation (natural vs. due to ferry operation); (8) Conduct a detailed bathymetric study of areas adjacent to the location of ferry, and determine the impacts of sediment deposition on bathymetry and water movement; and (9) Consult with the Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the Gwich'in Renewable Resource Board, as required. Negligible environmental impacts may be imparted by the use of a small outboard motor boat on the rivers and the TK study being held near the ferry landing sites and on the Rivers (as a result of a temporary canvas tent camp site). The fisheries components of the research will involve taking scale samples (non-lethal methodology) from 300-400 fish for aging. Additional aging data, including otolith samples, will be taken from any accidental fish mortalities (which will be used locally), and may be collected from a small proportion of live fish.