Alberta-Northwest Territories Transboundary Fish Monitoring Program: Slave River
Principal Investigator: Cunada, Chris (1)
Licence Number: 16946
Organization: GNWT- ENR
Licensed Year(s): 2022 2020 2019
Issued: Jan 25, 2022
Project Team: Kelly Munkittrick, Paul Jones, Annie Levasseur, Chris Cunada, Michael Palmer

Objective(s): To collect additional samples for fish health and fish contaminant levels, and to track their status over time to assess ecosystem health and provide an indication of change or stress in the environment.

Project Description: This licence has been issued for the scientific research application No.5149.

The objectives of this project are to collect additional samples for fish health and fish contaminant levels, and to track their status over time to assess ecosystem health and provide an indication of change or stress in the environment.

The research team will be sampling the same species of fish that were investigated in past studies in the Slave River (burbot, lake whitefish, walleye, northern pike) as well as species included in Oil Sands Monitoring program (white sucker and trout-perch).

The timing and method of sampling fish will vary according to spawning seasons, community fishing practices, and historic sampling programs. The research team will sample whitefish, walleye, northern pike, and white sucker in the Slave River at Fort Smith and in the Slave River delta. Target sample sizes will be 20 adult males and 20 adult females collected by gillnet and supplemented by angling if necessary for each species. The lengths and weights of these fish will be measured and tissues will be collected for contaminant analyses. The research team will also sample trout-perch, using electrofishing equipment or seining and targeting 20 adult males and 20 adult females in the Slave River at Fort Smith and in the Slave River delta.

The team will sample burbot under ice by jiggling or set lines near Ft. Smith and sampled for contaminants, targeting 20 males and 20 females. White sucker and walleye will be sampled during their respective spawning runs in the Slave River near the mouth of the Salt River. The research team expects to repeat this sampling work every 5 years to monitor change over time.

During meetings with the Slave River Delta Partnership (SRDP), members told the team that in addition to in-person meetings and reports, posters are effective communication tools. The team will circulate posters sharing preliminary results when available, and follow up with in-person meetings (through the SRDP) accompanied with technical and plain language reports detailing the findings of the monitoring program.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from January 26, 2022 to May 31, 2022.