Community Stewardship and Low-Flow Channels for an Arctic Char Run in Nunavut, Canada

Wednesday, August 20, 2014: 1:50 PM
306A (Centre des congrès de Québec // Québec City Convention Centre)
Cam Stevens , Golder Associates Ltd., Edmonton, AB, Canada
Ryan Popowich , Golder Associates Ltd., Edmonton, AB, Canada
Jim O'Neil , Golder Associates Ltd., Edmonton, AB, Canada
New climate trends may pose a risk to local fisheries in the Canadian Arctic.  We studied a historically significant char run in Nulahugyuk Creek where traditional knowledge refers to a recent decline, possibly in response to lower flows.  In 2012, we partnered with the Inuit community of Kugluktuk, Nunavut, to i) better understand the current state of the run using scientific methods; and ii) adapt traditional rock weirs and create low-flow channels for fish passage.  Over the 18-d study period the char run peaked early when flows were highest: from 95 adults captured July 5 to two adults on July 21 when flows had decreased by 50%.  Mortality from stranding in the lower section of the creek was high (>8% tagged fish); only a small percentage of tagged fish successfully made it upstream.  Migration speeds were surprisingly low (1.0km/d).  The data suggest challenging conditions including warm, shallow water and many barriers.  In response we identified five problem locations on the creek where boulders were removed by hand and placed to direct flows and fish.  Water levels increased 70% post-manipulation, and upstream movements of fish were observed.  We believe this approach can benefit the local Arctic char fishery.