Modeling of migratory patterns to spawning and over-wintering areas of harvested fish species in rivers along the Mackenzie Valley pipeline route
Principal Investigator: Tallman, Ross F (5)
Licence Number: 14039
Organization: Dept. Fisheries & Oceans
Licenced Year(s): 2006
Issued: Jul 26, 2006
Project Team: Melanie Toyne (Coordinator/supervisor, DFO), Zoya pawlychyn (field assistant, DFO)

Project Description: The goal of this study is to gather information about fish and fish habitat to minimize and monitor impacts associated with the proposed Mackenzie Gas Pipeline. Broad whitefish, inconnu, arctic cisco and lake whitefish are the major fish species taken in subsistence fisheries in the Mackenzie Valley. These species are highly migratory and are targeted by multiple fisheries along their migration routes. Environmental disturbances that alter areas where fish congregate, such as spawning grounds, over-wintering areas, and migratory corridors, or reduce water quality are likely to negatively impact species. In order to mitigate and monitor such impacts, it is necessary to identify where these areas are located and critical times of use.

In this study, anadromous broad whitefish, lake whitefish, inconnu, and arctic cisco will be surgically implanted with coded radio-telemetry transmitter tags to track fish movements with the aim of identifying spawning and over-wintering areas, and migratory corridors relating to the proposed Mackenzie Gas Pipeline project. The fish will be captured with short set gill nets in the Mackenzie River near Pierre Creek [28 km upstream from Tsiigehtchic (67º 19’ 55” N 133º 20’ 55” W)]. The field study will occur in early September during the spawning migrations. Fish will be assessed for tagging, anaesthetized, and surgically implanted with radio transmitters (in the abdominal cavity). Only unhurt adult fish meeting the weight requirements will be considered for tagging. Following surgery, the fish will be allowed to recover in a holding pen and then released back into the river. Tagged fish will be monitored by aerial tracking flights and with six fixed radio towers. Tracking flights from Inuvik will range between Tuktoyaktuk and Fort Good Hope. Spawning areas identified will be ground-truthed to confirm spawning activity and time, and the habitat described.

The results of this study will be shared with the community organizations through plain language reports, full reports, posters and presentations.
The study will take place from July 26 to December 31, 2006.