Ferry Landing Impacts on the Peel and Mackenzie Rivers: Traditional Knowledge Study and Fishery Survey

Regions: Gwich'in Settlement Area

Tags: traditional knowledge, infrastructure, fish abundance

Principal Investigator: Latta, Alex (3)
Licence Number: 16529
Organization: Wilfrid Laurier University
Licenced Year(s): 2019
Issued: Apr 12, 2019
Project Team: Derek Gray (Co-PI, Wilfrid Laurier University), Matthew Teillet (Research Assistant, Wilfrid Laurier University)

Objective(s): To collect traditional knowledge and fish harvest data on the ferry landing impacts on the Peel and Mackenzie Rivers.

Project Description: The objectives are to collect Traditional Knowledge (TK) and fish harvest data from each community, and ensure that each community is involved in interpreting the data collected. TK will be sought in relation to the historical use of the fishery resource, observed changes in fish abundance and health over time, observed changes in the river associated with the construction of the ferry landings, and other perceived conflicts between ferry operations and the traditional fishery. The fish harvest survey aims to identify the number of fish caught by species, locational information about where fishing is taking place, the characteristics of the gear used for fishing, the length of time spent fishing, and any observed changes in fish abundance.

In May 2019, the research team will hold open meetings to share science data from the first field season, and to launch the TK and fish harvest portions of the study. Following that, the team will interview 6-8 TK holders and fishers regarding the historical use of the fishing sites near the ferry landings, as well as observed changes in water quality, fish health and fishing opportunities. The team will also survey fishers to estimate their catches at the end of the fall fishing season. The research will conclude with meetings in each community to discuss and interpret the findings.
With participants’ consent, the interviews will be recorded or filmed, providing a digital archive of the knowledge collected in the communities. The final community meeting will also be recorded. The recordings will be transcribed, and translated to English as necessary. At the end of the study, all data will be delivered to the RRC of each community for them to archive.

All TK will be handled according to the Gwich’in Tribal Council Traditional Knowledge Policy, and to the stipulations of a research agreement with the Gwich’in Tribal Council Department of Cultural Heritage.

The communities have already been involved in the research design. A visit in June 2018 included meetings with members of the Renewable Resource Council in each community, as well as other community members with an interest in the study. The primary point of contact during the rest of the study will continue to be the RRCs. They will facilitate the recruitment of traditional knowledge holders and fish harvesters for participation in the research. A community-based research assistant (RA) will support the research through knowledge of the community and translation/transcription of interviews where necessary. The community-based RA will also administer the fish catch surveys.

A community meeting will be held in both locations at the start of May, both to share results from the water science portion of the study (which has been collecting data since last May) and to inform the communities about this portion of the study. Another community meeting will be held at the end of the study to share, interpret and validate results.

The May 2019 community meetings and final community meetings in the project are a key part of the communications plan. When it is ready, the final report will also be delivered directly to the RRC in each community. At DOI’s discretion, the report will also be made available to other government departments and online to the general public. The researchers will also publish conference and journal articles about the study, and these will be made available, along with plain-language summaries, to the RRCs and via the NWT Discovery Portal.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from May 1, 2019 to November 30, 2019.