Linking Science and Community for Fisheries Productivity Offsetting in the Canadian Arctic

Monday, August 18, 2014
Exhibit Hall 400AB (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
Max Brownhill , Sabina Gold & Silver Corp., North Vancouver, BC, Canada
Jacek Patalas , Golder Associates Ltd., Edmonton, AB, Canada
Options to offset negative impacts of mining developments on fisheries resources in the Canadian Arctic are limited.  If geographically restricted to the remote area of the development, the offset measure provides minimal benefits to traditional users of fish.  As an alternative, we present a community stewardship option designed to improve a historically significant Arctic Char run in a creek near Kugluktuk, Nunavut.   Previously collected data indicate challenging conditions in the creek including warm, shallow water and numerous barriers that impede fish access to the upstream lake used for spawning and overwintering.  Subsequent channel manipulations guided by traditional knowledge provided a cost-effective method for improving fish passage at select locations.  Based on these results, we predict that complete restoration of the creek will add at least 100 adults to the lake, or over 320 kg of new biomass per year.  Furthermore, we expect that fish production gains will magnify over time when offspring return as adults and may greatly exceed production losses from temporary drawdowns of small, low-productivity lakes.  Success of this offset option depends, in part, on community engagement and providing local people with the capacity to continue the work in perpetuity.