Continued Population Assessment of Harvested Fish Species in the Travaillant Lake System, Northwest Territories
Principal Investigator: Howard, Kimberly (1)
Licence Number: 13861
Organization: Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Licenced Year(s): 2005
Issued: Jun 24, 2005
Project Team: Les Harris (Gwich'in Renewable Resouce Board), Melissa McPherson, Simon Willey, Zoya Pawlychyn (Fisheries and Oceans Canada), 2-6 Gwich'in Beneficiaries from Tsiighetchic

Project Description: The main objectives of this study are to determine baseline population status and develop reliable indicators of population abundance and mortality rates of key harvested fish species (lake whitefish and broad whitefish) in the Travaillant Lake system and to identify and determine the relative abundance and species composition of other species within the lake system.

Field crews will be transported to Travaillant Lake and/or the Travaillant River via float plane (Cessna 206) or helicopter (A-Star). For stock assessment purposes, experimental gill nets with varying mesh sizes (1-inch to 5-inches) in combination with commercial size gill nets (5.5 inch) will be used to capture a representative sample of species and of sizes within species within Travaillant Lake and at two locations in the Travaillant River.

Captured fish will be sampled and the following biological characteristics will be recorded: fork length, round weight, gonad weight, and sex and maturity. In addition, tissue samples will be removed and archived for contaminant and/or genetic analysis. Data will be analyzed to determine age and length frequencies, age at maturity, size at maturity, growth, mortality and fecundity. When fishing, sampling effort (soak time of experimental gill nets) will be recorded in order to estimate relative abundance through the calculation of catch per unit effort (CPUE). The researchers expect to catch 750 broad whitefish, 750 lake whitefish, 200 cisco species, 50 northern pike, 50 lake trout, 10 inconnu, and 10 arctic grayling.

Tsiigehtchic community members will be hired as field assistants for the duration of this study and will be trained in fisheries sampling techniques. Funding permitting, the researchers will also be hiring youths as part of the Gwich’in Youth Experience Program.

The study will be conducted at Travaillant Lake and on the Travaillant River during two weeks in June/July and two to three weeks in October, 2005.