The goal of the Stock Restoration Initiative is to deliver a comprehensive one week salmon restoration educational workshop that leads to an informed group of Yukon Territory First Nation government representatives that will subsequently engage in stock restoration efforts, increasing territory wide capacity and focus interest on effective restoration principles and practice. This intends to meet the Near Term Priority of the Communications envelope to increase the desire of the public to maintain and protect stocks by better enabling and engaging representatives from around the territory. The initiative will bring experienced restoration experts to Whitehorse to provide lectures on their respective habitat and hatchery oriented restoration practices and use local stream habitats to provide on the ground examples of evaluations and opportunities for habitat restoration or enhancement. These experts will provide an overview of their experience including challenges and considerations for achieving successful projects and developing programs for stock restoration.
The Carcross/ Tagish First Nation (CTFN) has a long history of cultural connections and subsistence interaction with Yukon River Chinook salmon. There are documented accounts of adult Chinook salmon in the Tagish River system between Marsh Lake and Tagish Lake and elsewhere in the southern lakes system, including at the bridge in Carcross. Residents, CTFN citizens and commercial fishers have caught Chinook salmon in the past within this system and in the summer of 2014 CTFN Heritage, Lands and Natural Resources department (HLNR) caught two adult male Chinook salmon in one net that had been set at Deep Bay near the southern end of Tagish Lake. This catch provides the furthest upstream record, as well as the most recent account of Chinook salmon activity within the Southern Lakes.
This project will research and document through an Environmental Scan, the historical and traditional knowledge of where salmon were historically caught and their spawning areas in the Southern Lakes up-river of Marsh Lake.
CTFNs long term goal is to have substantially more salmon using traditional spawning grounds up-river of Marsh Lake and ultimately in the Yukon River. This project is one component of a larger overall project designed to identify and characterize Chinook salmon spawning sites in the Southern Lakes, up-river of Marsh Lake, with the long-term objective of restoring and enhancing the productivity of those sites. CTFN’s objective for the work outlined in this R&E proposal, is to understand the historical distribution and relative abundance of Chinook in the upper reaches of the Yukon River watershed through the collection of historical data and traditional knowledge. Other components of the overall project will use that data to assist in identifying and characterizing existing and historical spawning sites.
Yukon Fisheries Field Assistant Program is designed to meet Territorial needs for certified skilled fisheries workers. The Yukon River Panel’s Restoration and Enhancement Fund make monies available for community-initiated fisheries projects within the Yukon River drainage. However, there is often a shortage of qualified individuals to work on these projects. There is also an increasing need for technical capacity and technical skills related to conservation concerns of Yukon River salmon, and for First Nations to participate directly in data collection. This project directly addresses these needs by making training opportunities more readily available.
This project aims to provide the opportunity for a youth from the community to gain hands on learning of traditional and conventional conservation and stewardship methodologies which will help substantially to create and promote awareness towards the activities involved in by the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Government and by other local salmon restoration, management and enhancement projects. Local knowledge will also be incorporated into the student’s weekly activities.
Beginning in early June the student steward is provided with safety training before entering the field to ensure a safe summer. Support from the Student Steward carries a wide array of salmon related responsibilities which assist the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Fish and Wildlife Coordinator and Steward. At this time of year, the department is gearing up for the upcoming First Fish, which is an anticipated event for the youth and all involved. Preparation for the First Fish includes untangling gills nets, attaching lines for anchors, repairing the nets, boat preparation, bear and ATV safety. Other R & E projects in the area will be incorporated into the student steward’s work plan. Such projects could include the First Fish, the Klondike River Sonar Project and the DDRRC Rearing and Overwintering Access Restoration project.
Over the past few years there has been increased concern by Yukon First Nations and other salmon users regarding the decline of sustainably harvestable salmon that reach the Yukon and the continued conservation of Yukon River salmon stocks. At the Council of Yukon First Nations (CYFN) General Assembly in 2010 there was a resolution passed to seek funding for CYFN to host a Yukon River Salmon Summit for Yukon First Nations. There is a great and urgent desire by Yukon First Nations within the Yukon River drainage to meet, discuss, and create a strategic plan with the focus on conservation, education, and increased information sharing between First Nations, salmon users, and salmon management bodies.
Information about: the role of salmon management bodies, proposed Yukon salmon management recommendations (ie. letting the first pulse pass), involvement in salmon organizations (eg. The Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association cultural exchange and in-season conference calls), harvesting techniques (eg. implications of various mesh sizes on salmon stocks), current and proposed First Nations conservation & monitoring programs (eg. Ta’an Kwach’an Council’s water temperature monitoring program), and suggested educational initiatives (eg. proposing a youth writing contest regarding salmon conservation and to be advertised in the schools) will be presented.
Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in (TH) citizens are physically, culturally and spiritually connected to the Yukon River salmon fishery. This fishery has been a major contributor to the traditional economy since time immemorial and the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, or people of the river, have historically focused salmon harvest at the confluence of the Yukon and Klondike Rivers, or Tr’ochëk. As a primary stakeholder in subsistence and commercial salmon fisheries, TH has a vested interest in the health of salmon stocks found within our Traditional Territory. Klondike River Chinook salmon have faced declining populations for a number of decades and it’s because of this decline that we have been involved with, and have supported salmon restoration projects in our Traditional Territory. We hope that our continued and persistent involvement in restoration efforts will one day result in the return of healthy salmon stocks to this watershed.
In 2008, a Klondike River Sonar Feasibility Study was completed by B. Mercer & Associates Ltd. A candidate site was located approximately 4 km upstream from the confluence of the Yukon River (Mercer 2008). This site was chosen for the ease of access to the site via road, river profile is conducive to sonar and weir operation, the location is far enough upstream from the Yukon River but also located downstream of known spawning habitat (Mercer 2008). From 2009 through 2011, Mercer successfully operated a sonar at the Klondike River site, during which time the escapement ranged from 1,181 to 5,147 spawners. For the proposed 2019 project, TH proposes to use the same site and methods which were proven to be successful from 2009 to 2011.
The proposed project provides an indicator of Chinook escapement which is important for a number of reasons. With TH becoming more actively involved in restoration, the long-term operation of this sonar is desirable for tracking changes in abundance in the future. The Klondike stock is also known to migrate relatively early at the mouth of the river and therefore, this makes them more vulnerable to harvest as many of the spawners move through the lower river prior to managers having strong confidence in escapement numbers.
Brian Mercer and Associates, in possible cooperation with the Teslin Tlingit Council (TTC), will conduct an outreach and communication project in Teslin Yukon. The targeted audience for this project are community members interested in the biology, conservation and management of Teslin River Chinook salmon.
A Power Point presentation on the set up, operation and results of the Teslin River Sonar Project will be prepared and presented in the Teslin community by Brian Mercer. The methods and results of the Teslin River sonar project will be presented in the context of the overall biology, conservation, utilization and management of the Teslin River Chinook stocks. An attempt will be made to construct the Power Point presentation in a format that could be used in a classroom.
This project aims to build from work conducted in 2010 and 2011 supported by the R&E Fund. We plan to continue monitoring the temperature of 10 sites established in 2011 and will add six new sites in 2012. At each monitoring site, data loggers will be installed and calibrated following a standardized protocol (see Dunham et al. 2005; von Finster 2010). Each site will have two HOBO Pro v2 water temperature data loggers and two iButtons deployed in order to assure redundancy of equipment and protect against data loss. We will also evaluate the difference between logger types for potential cost savings in long term monitoring. Each data logger will be programmed to record water temperature hourly (on the hour), 24 hours per day, seven days per week, from the time of deployment until retrieval. Data loggers will be in place in most sites from May until September, but may be removed earlier if projects end for the season. All data will be entered into the publicly accessible database Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) constructed in 2010, with the potential to use any observed temperature data in future analyses for Yukon salmon management.
Water temperature has been shown to influence adult spawning success, egg survival, and post-hatchling developmental processes (Geist et al. 2006). Because of temperature’s importance to salmon survival and development coupled with effects of climate change, there is a need to develop a standardized water temperature monitoring program throughout the Yukon River Basin region. Although water temperature is already measured for several escapement monitoring sites through Alaska and the Yukon Territory, much of the available temperature data is not comparable statistically due to inconsistent sampling protocols (e.g. time series do not overlap, differing equipment).
Chinook salmon provide for important aboriginal, subsistence, personal use, commercial, and sport fisheries throughout the entire Yukon River drainage, as summarized in the most recently published yearly management reports (Bue et al. 2011) and U.S./Canada Joint Technical Committee reports (JTC 2011). G.Sandone Consulting, LLC, in cooperation with the Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada will sample spawned out, predominantly live Chinook salmon within the Little Salmon River drainage, Yukon, Canada, to estimate the age, sex, length (ASL) of the spawning population within that drainage. The Little Salmon is a tributary to the Yukon River with the confluence with the Yukon River near the village of Carmacks, Yukon.
Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association in cooperation with Asacarsarmiut Tribal Council (ATC) and ADF&G will conduct an outreach and education project in Mountain Village, Alaska. The targeted audience for this outreach and education project are the elementary and high school students that attend school in Mountain Village.
Presentations regarding Chinook salmon biology, conservation, and the Mountain Village Chinook salmon test fishery will be made by Gene Sandone, representing YDFDA, (and possibly ADF&G staff) to school children during one or two days in September 2012. After the presentation, the students will be invited to participate in a contest that would require them to relay either what they know or have learned about Yukon River Chinook salmon biology, conservation, and/or the Mountain Village Chinook salmon test fishery in art form for elementary school students and in an essay for high school students. Prizes for the contest winners in each school category will be provided by YDFDA.
The art work from the elementary school students will be provided to ADF&G and USFWS for possible display on Yukon Area subsistence calendars, or submitted as entries for the contest for the cover of ADF&G and USGWS regulation booklets.