Category: 2020

2020 Fund Project

Klondike River Chinook Salmon Sonar Project

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.

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.

CRE-16-20. Klondike River Chinook Sonar 2020 Repor...

CRE-16-19. Klondike Sonar Final Report 2019

CRE-16-11 Klondike River Sonar Final Report 2011

CRE-16-10 Klondike River Sonar Final Report 2010

CRE-16-09 Klondike Sonar Report Final 2009

CRE-16N-08 Klondike River Chinook Sonar Report

 

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.

CRE-147-18. 2018 Tay River Chinook Access Report...

 

 

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.

URE-162-18N Juvenile Chinook Outmigration at the Y...

Enhanced Education and Outreach – Salmonids in the Classroom

Can-nic-a-Nick Environmental Services and Fish on Yukon – Instruction and Outreach will coordinate the two components of the program, with Can-nic-a-Nick Environmental Services focusing on the technical/aquaculture components of the program (aquarium set-up & maintenance, permitting, incubation, egg takes, and fry release) with Fish on Yukon enhancing the classroom, public relations, partnership development, media relations and general communications components of the program.

This new approach to the delivery of the Salmonids in the Classroom through the two separate funding requests will allow Can-nic-a-Nick to focus on the essential tasks related to the aquarium/fish culture or technical aspects while Fish on Yukon will focus on enhancing the education and outreach. Through discussions with Can-nic-a-Nick, the maintenance, repair (i.e. chillers, tanks) and fish culture (obtaining eggs and milt) is often the priority throughout the school year and takes considerable effort and is prone to timing and logistical challenges. The challenges of combining the technical and educational aspects will be removed through this new approach. There is also value in a team approach to ensure that corporate knowledge on the program is not lost should there be turnover within the project.

The Enhanced Education and Outreach – Salmonids in the Classroom will be led and delivered by Fish on Yukon – Instruction and Outreach with support from the Pacific Region – SEP Unit of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

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.

CC-156-20 Salmon in the Schools Final Report 2020-...

CC-156-20 Salmon in the Schools Final Report 2020-...

CC-156-19. Salmon in the Schools Report 2019

CC-156-18. Salmon in the Schools Final Report

CC-156-17N Zimmerman. Enhanced Education & Outreac...

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.

CRE-64-19. Fish ladder Report final 2019

CRE-64-18 Fishladder Year End Report 2018

CRE-64-17 Whitehorse fish ladder Year End Report 2...

CRE-64-14 Whitehorse Rapids Hatchery Stewardship

CRE-64-13 Whitehorse Rapids Fishway Salmon Steward...

Klondike River Chinook Stock Restoration Plan & In-stream Incubation Trial

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.

CRE-153-19 Klondike instream incubation Report 201...

CRE-153-18 Klondike Instream Incubation Trial Fina...

CRE-153-17N Klondike R. Chinook Salmon Stock Resto...

 

Assessing the fate of returning Upper Yukon River Chinook Salmon

Upper Yukon River Chinook Salmon populations (defined for the purpose of this study as fish that terminate in the mainstem Yukon River or its tributaries above the confluence with the Teslin River) have experienced similar declines to other Yukon River populations in recent years. Greater declines probably occurred much earlier in the past century. Historic reports from First Nations along with a biologist and RCMP officer indicate that ~10,000 Chinook Salmon were harvested annually in the M’Clintock River system (Cox 1997); however, returns counted at the Whitehorse Rapids Generating Facility (WRGF) fish ladder have averaged only ~1200 fish over the past 15 years, and no active fisheries are able to exploit the population.

The fate of many Chinook Salmon after they pass the fish ladder is unknown. Previous radio telemetry studies (Cleugh and Russel 1980; Matthews 1999) showed that 74% to 81% of these Chinook Salmon traveled to the M’Clintock/Michie system, though sample sizes were small. The majority are believed to spawn in Michie Creek, between Michie Lake and Byng Creek (de Graff 2015). Understanding whether Chinook Salmon spawn elsewhere in the M’Clintock River system will inform further efforts to recover the stock. Other spawning locations may represent genetically unique stocks that would benefit from restoration, or habitats that would benefit from improved access (e.g., log jam removal). Perhaps more importantly, the fate of the ~25% of Chinook Salmon that pass the WRGF fish ladder but do not terminate in the M’Clintock River system is unknown. These fish could spawn in unknown locations in the Southern Lakes or the mainstem Yukon River above the WRGF, or they may expire before reaching the spawning grounds. In either case, stock or habitat restoration actions could be identified that would benefit these depleted stocks, once their terminal location is known.

The role of the WRGF in limiting Chinook Salmon population recovery is largely unknown. Returns have oscillated considerably around a relatively stable mean since the dam and fish ladder were built in 1958 and 1959, respectively. Beginning with the first release of hatchery-reared fry in 1985, returns have been maintained in part by hatchery-origin fish, which represent ~50% of the return. Each year, ~1200 fish successfully pass via the fish ladder; however, the proportion that fail to pass the WRGF remains unknown. The first step is understanding whether passage failure is occurring at the WRGF and whether delays are rare and short or more severe.

This project has two primary goals. The first is to identify depleted stocks that are candidates for restoration, along with potential spawning restoration sites. Specific objectives for this proposal associated with this goal are to assess:

1) Where salmon spawn in the M’Clintock River system;
2) What other terminal locations exist above Lake Laberge aside from the Takhini River, Wolf Creek and the M’Clintock River;
3) Whether some fish that pass the WRGF fail to reach Marsh Lake (and to subsequently assess whether these fish spawn successfully in the mainstem Yukon River or experience pre-spawning mortality).

The second goal is to assess whether challenges associated with passage at the WRGF are limiting production of Upper Yukon River Chinook stocks. Specific objectives for this proposal associated with this goal are to assess:

4) What proportion of fish approaching the WRGF successfully pass it;
5) The extent to which fish are delayed at the WRGF before passing;
6) What proportion of fish return downstream after passing the WRGF.

CRE-149-20 Assessing the Fate of Returning upper Y...

CRE-149-18 Assessing the Fate of Returning Upper Y...

CRE-149-17N Assessing the Fate of Returning Upper ...

 

Temperature Monitoring of Yukon River Chinook Salmon Spawning and Migration Habitats in Canada

After a returning salmon leaves the marine environment, water temperatures largely determine its ability to migrate and spawn successfully. The goal of this project is to develop a publicly accessible baseline of the thermal regimes of Yukon River Chinook Salmon spawning and migration habitats in Canada.

The Yukon River Canadian Water Temperature Monitoring Network (the Network) was initiated during the 2011 – 2012 ADF&G water temperature project, and is continued by a Canadian Consultant to the present. The Network currently comprises 15 Stations, and data collection is conducted in watercourses utilized by Chinook Salmon for adult migration and spawning, as well as juvenile incubation, rearing, overwintering and downstream migration. Design of the Network includes both geographical and temporal components. Data from temperature data loggers at each station are downloaded, checked and used to generate mean, minimum and maximum daily temperatures, and this data set is uploaded to yukonwatertemperatures.info.

The primary rationale for the project continuing is that it extends the temporal length of the baseline. This allows more complete consideration of the inter-annual range of temperatures that may be expected, and strengthens the baseline for future salmon fishery and habitat managers to determine temperature trends and effects thereof. The secondary rationale is the public nature of the project, with data being widely and freely distributed. This enables access to the data by agency and non-agency persons, and reduces the risk that data – and the investment in collecting it – will be lost due to personnel changes, government reorganizations or simple neglect.

CRE-20-19. Water Temperature Monitoring of Yukon R...

CRE-20-18 Water Temps Monitoring of YR Chinook Hab...

CRE-20-17 Water Temps Monitoring of YR Chinook Hab...

CRE-20-16 Water temperature monitoring of YR Chino...

CRE-20-15 Temperature monitoring of Yukon River Ch...

CRE-20-14 Water temperature monitoring of YR Chino...

CRE-20-13 Water temperature monitoring of YR Chino...

URE-25-12 Temperature monitoring of Canadian and A...

URE-25-11 Temperature monitoring of Canadian and A...

 

Ta’an Kwäch’än Council Fox Creek Salmon Restoration Project

Fox Creek is a lake-headed tributary to Lake Laberge and the Yukon River, located approximately 50 km north of Whitehorse. It lies within the traditional territory of Ta’an Kwäch’än Council (TKC) and historically supported a Chinook salmon fishery; however, since the late 1950’s this stock has been extirpated. Habitat changes (forest fire/beavers and/or fishing (easy access) to Fox Creek may have played a role in decline of this stock. Ta’an Kwäch’än Council’s goal for the Fox Creek Salmon Chinook Salmon Restoration Program is to re-establish a self-sustaining population of Chinook with sufficient spawners to have a high probability of long-term persistence in the face of variability in survival due to natural changes in the environment. TKC aims to ensure that a viable natural stock is abundant enough to contribute to a sustainable harvest for current and future generations as part of their natural culture and heritage.
From 2007 to 2015 TKC assessed, developed and implemented Phase I of this program and Year 8 (2015) marked the end of that phase. The Phase I Chinook Salmon Stock Restoration Plan for Fox Creek (CRE-52N-07) suggested restoration of this extirpated stock be conducted over 2 Chinook salmon life cycles.
The latter part of Phase I saw the return of Chinook salmon to Fox Creek and the stock is showing signs of recovery. Phase II will use knowledge gained in Phase I to guide an implementation and monitoring approach to establish a viable, naturally self-sustaining Chinook salmon population that will contribute to a sustainable harvest for TKC citizens.

CRE-25-20. Fox Creek Salmon Restoration 2020 Repor...

CRE-25-19 Fox Creek Annual YRP Report 2019

CRE-25-18 Final TKC Fox Creek Chinook Restoration

CRE-25-17 Fox Creek Chinook Salmon Restoration pro...

CRE-25-16 Ta’an Kwäch’än Council Fox Creek C...

CRE-25-15 Ta’an Kwäch’än Council Fox Creek C...

CRE-25-14 Fox Creek Chinook Salmon Restoration Pro...

CRE-25-13N Fox Creek Chinook Salmon Restoration Pr...

 

Genetic Stock Identification of Pilot Station Chinook Salmon

To effectively manage Yukon River Chinook (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) salmon stocks originating from Canada, fishery managers require an understanding of the stock composition of the run as it enters the river. Canadian-origin Chinook salmon migrate through approximately 1,200 miles of fisheries in the Alaska portion of the drainage. An estimate of the Canadian-origin Chinook salmon run strength and migration timing is vital to ensuring that appropriate management actions are taken to meet border escapement objectives. This project helps in the management of Yukon River Chinook salmon by providing estimates of stock composition of Chinook salmon migrating past the mainstem sonar project near Pilot Station in the lower portion of the Yukon River. The ADF&G Gene Conservation Laboratory (GCL) creates in-season stock composition estimates by genotyping samples from the sonar project test fishery, and using the resulting genotypes to perform mixed stock analysis (MSA). Of particular importance to fishery managers is identification of the Canadian-origin component of the Chinook salmon run.

Deliverables from this project will include in-season analyses of the Canadian-origin component of Chinook salmon passage, which will be disseminated to key fishery research and management staff, from Federal and State agencies, in both the U.S. and Canada. The results will be published in department News Releases in-season, the Yukon River Panel United States/Canada Joint Technical Committee’s (JTC) annual report, and in a final report to the Yukon River Panel, including relevant comparisons to historical data and observed trends.

URE-92-19. Genetic Stock Identification of Pilot S...

URE-92-18 Genetic Stock Identification of Pilot St...

URE-92-17 GSI of Pilot Station Chinook Salmon 2017...

URE-92-16 Genetic Stock Identification of Pilot St...