Category: 2018

2018 Fund Project

Upper Teslin River Watershed Chinook Radio Telemetry

For 2019, the project is planned to incorporate knowledge gained during 2018 to achieve the goal of obtaining a comprehensive understanding of Chinook spawning distribution in the upper portion of the Teslin River watershed. This will be accomplished through the following: increasing the number of tags to be applied, focusing the tag application on the early portion of the run, and increase the crew size to four individuals to allow for tag application to be completed 24 hours a day. Understanding of the extent and relative importance of tributaries used for spawning will guide monitoring efforts and future restoration activities to places where they are appropriate and will have the greatest potential for contributing to the restoration of Chinook salmon stocks. The new radio telemetry data will be combined with the existing data to strengthen the knowledge of Chinook spawning distributions and will make the data more relevant by applying tags throughout the run.

Teslin Tlingit Salmon Steward

This project will take the form of a work experience program intended to offer a Teslin Tlingit youth the opportunity to explore a variety of fisheries-related work, building skills and experience in this field in the role of Salmon Steward. This position will, in turn, build the long-term capacity of Teslin Tlingit Council (TTC) to carry out projects and programs that promote salmon restoration, conservation, communication, and education.
The TTC Salmon Steward will be supported by experienced TTC staff technicians and managers and work with these staff, consultants, and TTC summer students over the course of one year. The range of work experiences that will be provided to the TTC Salmon Steward will be broad, and includes exposure to and participation in Chinook salmon management planning, meetings, and implementation, technical skills in restoration and monitoring, and educational and communication material development.  The creation of this position supports the success of other TTC projects (Deadman Creek Chinook Restoration and Upper Teslin Watershed Chinook Telemetry projects) by ensuring that the additional field-based capacity that these require is secured for the duration of the projects.

Little Salmon Carmacks Juvenile Chinook Salmon Monitoring Program

This project has 2 main goals; 1) to document the extent of juvenile Chinook salmon utilization in the Carmacks area on an annual basis to create a meaningful data base, and 2) to involve community (school and youth groups) in the collections in order to maintain a personal link between the year to year fluctuations of the salmon populations and in the process develop local stewardship of the salmon resources. To do this we will conduct a minnow trapping survey in 15 to 20 easily accessed sites within our traditional territory. The sites will be chosen this, the first year, on the basis of ability to be repeated in subsequent years. The accumulated data-base, composed on an annual basis, will allow an opportunity to follow the relative abundance of juvenile Chinook in the area. After several years of collection the data set will show trends and become a valuable tool in assessing health of individual areas.

Tay River Chinook Access Investigation

The Tay River is a tributary of the Pelly River in the upper Yukon River drainage and is also is one of the larger tributaries within the Pelly River watershed with an area of approximately 3,500 km2.

Despite the large size of the watershed and suitable habitat,  Chinook were not found in previous radio telemetry studies. The telemetry studies included detailed aerial surveys of all possible drainages that could contain Yukon River Chinook populations (Mercer 2005, Mercer and Eiler 2004, Osborne et al. 2003). The lack of radio tagged Chinook in the Tay River system led the researchers to conduct a more detailed aerial investigation of the lower reaches of the system. This investigation and subsequent surveys indicated that an impediment to salmon migration (velocity barrier) was located approximately 5 km upstream of the mouth of the Tay River drainage (Mercer and Eiler 2004).

Due to the Tay River system’s relatively large size and probable spawning and rearing habitat, it may offer one of the better opportunities to significantly increase Chinook production within the upper Yukon River system. The increase in Chinook production would be accomplished by providing and/or improving access for Chinook salmon into the system through modification of the current barrier /impediment to salmon migration.



Juvenile Chinook Salmon Outmigration at the Yukon River Mouth

Juvenile outmigration is an important life stage for Yukon River Chinook salmon. Recent research suggests that much of the variability in Chinook salmon production may occur prior to the first summer at sea (Howard et al. 2016, Murphy et al. 2017) and that larger fish with higher energy content at the end of their first marine summer had a greater chance of surviving to adulthood (Howard et al. 2016). Outmigration from the river to the marine environment is physiologically stressful. Larger in-river has been linked to both downstream survival (Zabel & Achord 2004) and adult returns (Zabel & Williams 2002, Woodson et al. 2013) in wild Chinook populations, and suggests that early growth in fresh water may be an important indicator of later growth (Ruggerone at al. 2009). This is consistent with an emerging idea that fish need to prepare themselves for life history transitions such as smolting or offshore migrations. This preparation is associated with increased energy reserves, which are maximized by increased size.

The objectives of this project are to quantify outmigration timing from ice out through the end of the August,  examine size (length and weight), growth, diet, energetic condition, and smolting stage of outmigrating juveniles in relation to environmental variables in the freshwater and nearshore marine environment, and to collect genetic samples to assess outmigrant origin.

Developing a Juvenile Stock-Recruitment Relationship for Chinook Salmon

The main goal of this project is to develop a juvenile stock-recruit relationship for Yukon River Chinook salmon. Information about limits to production in the freshwater environment can play a key role in augmenting standard stock-recruit analysis.  Our second goal is to contribute to understanding about the extent that juvenile rearing habitat is limiting productivity at a given stock level which can then form the basis for setting restoration priorities. The objective of the proposed work is to extend an existing 6-year database of juvenile Chinook salmon density for small non-natal streams tributary to the Yukon River near Dawson City. Sampling in 2018 and possibly 2019 will take advantage of recent strong returns to the Canadian basin.  With an additional 2 years of data the relation between spawner abundance and subsequent juvenile density should be well established so that it can contribute to the goals identified above.

Salmon in the Schools

The Salmon in the Schools (SIS) program was piloted in 2017-18, delivered and refined in 2018-19, was
further enhanced for 2019-2020 and programming was reinforced through 2020-2021 and 2021/2022. We propose to sustain and maintain the programming and content in 2022-2023. Rivers to Ridges (R2R) will continue to enhance the classroom, public relations, partnership development, media relations and communications components of the program.

In this next stage of the program, we aim to work with the relevant stories and modules we made in the past, and work with and support Yukon educators and local salmon stewards to provide training with educators so they can learn to facilitate the curriculum we have developed.

While DFO currently supports these technical elements (tanks, egg takes, maintenance, etc.) of the
Stream to Sea program, R2R will offer relevant story-based support to educators and learners by
offering resources, classroom visits across the Yukon, relevant educational support that is outdoor,
land-based, and culturally connected.

The impetus for this project is driven by the concern that the Yukon public is losing their connection to Yukon salmon. In the absence of being able to fish for Canadian-origin Yukon River and Porcupine salmon (recreational and commercial) and drastic conservation (subsistence) amongst First Nations and rural Alaska and Yukon, there are limited opportunities to harvest and make a connection. In the absence of this connection there is a concern that they will no longer value and protect this resource.

Selkirk Nation Fall Chum Utilization Project

Selkirk First Nation (SFN) has had success in the development and implementation of their community based management plan regarding Pelly River Chinook salmon. In 2015 and 2016 SFN actively managed their fishery through establishing recommended allocations per fishing camp, making recommendations around net sizes and the live release of all females. SFN is a very traditional community that has an active and thriving fish camp culture. A recent study from a Minto Mine socio-economic report identified that SFN citizens heavily utilize the seasons by harvesting game throughout the year and approximately 80% still eat mainly country foods.

While SFN continues to fish for Pelly River Chinook salmon they have severely restricted harvest and are looking for other sources of traditional foods to supplement their diets and way of life. SFN harvests freshwater fish such as Grayling, Pike and Whitefish as a substitute for Chinook. Another species that can provide an opportunity for harvest and substitution is Fall Chum.

Fall Chum salmon are often still firm and edible for humans where they pass along the Yukon River near Minto Landing. SFN people have traditionally harvested Fall Chum salmon, however, not to the same extent and for the same purposes as Chinook salmon. Traditionally used for dog food, there are few people within SFN that actively harvest Fall Chum for human consumption. With the severe restrictions on Chinook salmon and the desire to conserve these stocks, SFN would like to explore a Fall Chum harvest and research ways that Chum salmon can become an important source of SFN traditional food.




Whitehorse Rapids Fishway Stewardship

This project provides a strong stewardship opportunity for its young employees and the various visitors to the Fishway. The stewardship portion of this project targets people of all ages who visit the fish ladder, but particular focus is on its employees, including local high school and university students. These employees develop a good understanding of the salmon life cycle, management and habitat as they monitor information from DFO and ADF&G to follow the passage of the salmon up the river, and work with hatchery staff to collect broodstock, look after salmon fry aquaria in the interpretive centre, communicate this information to fishway visitors daily and conduct stream walks at Wolf Creek to monitor adult returns. Fishway employees also learn about sampling techniques and salmon husbandry through assisting the Hatchery manager with egg takes and ASL sampling. The employees communicate their knowledge to a broad range of visitors to the ladder, including the hosted Open House in August during the primary run time, which fosters an appreciation for salmon and support for the management of the salmon and their habitat. Public recognition of the importance of this interpretation venue to the tourism sector of the Yukon also enhances the local support for stewardship of Yukon River salmon. Through this project the various visitors learn about the valuable resource that is present in the Yukon River drainage and the employees through their work experience learn valuable skills that can help them pursue a career in fish and wildlife interests.

Klondike River Chinook Stock Restoration

The objective of this proposal is the development of a “Klondike River Chinook Salmon Stock Restoration Plan” which will, among other aspects, serve to compile all existing Chinook salmon restoration and enhancement (R&E) research projects that have occurred along the Klondike River since 1989. It is our intention to examine existing data with respect to water quality, water quantity/ flow rates, water temperature, juvenile rearing habitat, juvenile success rates (including juvenile assessments of outmigration timings and documented size data for juveniles (i.e. length/ weight), redds/ adult spawning areas, and adult spawning timing. A thorough examination of this data will ultimately identify any knowledge gaps that must be addressed prior to committing to and deciding upon the type of restoration project that will best suit conditions found on the Klondike River.

Once all information has been compiled and evaluated, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in will then move forward with a review of the evaluation and fully develop the Klondike River Restoration Plan. It is our desire to have the Klondike River Restoration Plan determine the optimum approach for stock restoration for the Chinook salmon on the Klondike River through the data compilation and analysis, current site analysis and insight gained from other on-going restoration research in the Yukon River watershed.