Three researchers are working on two separate but related projects looking into the health of fish in the region, and they want as much feedback from local anglers as possible.
“Some people talk about the fish being totally healthy and they don’t really notice much,” said Tracey Proverbs, whose research began last year. “Other people might see more scars on fish. Some people in the past have talked about spots on livers. One person was talking about almost a pus-like substance in fish.”
Overall, anglers she’s spoken to in the region think fish are generally healthy, but many people are worried about things that could change that in the future.
Proverbs’s research is part of the greater Tracking Change project, which is also investigating changes in fish populations in Brazil and Thailand. She’s spending a few months in the region, starting with trips to fishing camps near Fort McPherson.
Emma Hodgson and Rachel Hovel are looking more specifically at broad whitefish in the Mackenzie River.
“We became really interested in this species because we know it’s important (to anglers in the area),” said Hovel.
Her and Hodgson’s research is just beginning this summer but looking at physical characteristics of the fish as well as studying the land to determine important aspects of their habitat.
A large part of their project is building capacity for harvesters to collect data for long-term information collection.
Their research will be looking at impacts of climate change, where fish are spawning, where banks are collapsing and any other potential impacts on fish populations, in addition to talking to harvesters for their knowledge.
“We’re working out of McPherson this summer with harvesters on the Peel River, but if we continue to get funding we’re hoping to spread out to Tsiigehtchic and maybe other communities as well,” said Hovel.
Anglers wishing to contribute to the research or share information about what they’ve seen are encouraged to email Proverbs at email@example.com or Hodgson at firstname.lastname@example.org.