Further Examination of the Bio- Magnification of Mercury within Fish Species of the Dehcho and Their Varying Levels Among Lakes

Regions: Dehcho Region

Tags: contaminants, zooplankton, fish, mercury, aquatic invertebrates

Principal Investigator: Swanson, Heidi (6)
Licence Number: 16046
Organization: University of Waterloo
Licenced Year(s): 2017 2016 2016 2015 2014 2013
Issued: Feb 08, 2017
Project Team: Community Fisher/Monitor (Field Assistance, Liidlii Kue FN), Community Fisher/Monitor (Field Assistance, Deh Gah Gotie FN), Community Fisher/Monitor (Field Assistance, Jean Marie River FN)

Objective(s): To determine why fish mercury levels vary among lakes in the Dehcho region.

Project Description: The objectives of this research project are: 1) to determine why fish mercury levels vary among lakes in the Dehcho region; 2) to identify best predictors of fish mercury levels; and, 3) to determine which fish have the lowest levels of mercury and highest levels of micro-nutrients and fatty acids.

The methods for this project include two parts, first is the collection of food web data from each lake, which includes collecting phytoplankton, periphyton, zooplankton, benthic inverts and fish samples; second the samples will be analyzed in a laboratory for stable isotopes and total mercury. Each spring the previous year’s results will be reported back during community meetings. Collection of the samples will involve the assistance of local community members with knowledge of the lake and fishery to go out with the researcher and assist in the collection. The collection of samples from the lakes will occur during the fall of each year. Dependence on the local fishers will be crucial to catching the required amount of fish per each lake.

This is a community based initiative and first nation members will be involved at every step. All fish will go back to the community and any large feasts or events will be catered by the community. This research will also provide useful information for fish management and subsistence.

Communication of the results back to the communities is the most important part of this research. After each field seasons completed and samples have been analyzed, the results will be reported to the related community (s) in plain language at community meetings. In addition to individual meetings with the First Nations, plans are being made for a workshop at the end of the project.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from August 1, 2017 to September 30, 2017.