Porcupine River Chum Salmon Telemetry

The Fishing Branch River weir has been used for numerous years to document the annual escapement of Porcupine River chum; however, weir operations were discontinued after 2012, in favor of a sonar station near Old Crow. To compare future run estimates from the Porcupine River sonar program to historical counts from the Fishing Branch River weir, a thorough understanding of the destination of chum salmon passing Old Crow is required. The weir and sonar programs operated concurrently in 2011 and 2012; chum salmon were floy tagged at the sonar site and a portion of the tags were recovered at the weir, providing rough estimates of the proportion of Porcupine River chum salmon passing the Fishing Branch weir location. In 2013, EDI Environmental Dynamics Inc. (EDI) radio tagged 94 chum salmon at the sonar site and tracked them to spawning destinations throughout the upper Porcupine River. The results of this program indicate that approximately 74% of tagged chum salmon spawned upstream of the former weir site in 2013. A second year of radio tagging will provide strong confidence in the relationship between weir and sonar counts, which has been under development since 2011. The proposed project involves conducting a second year of radio telemetry for chum salmon in the Canadian portion of the Porcupine River watershed. Fish will be tagged at the Porcupine River sonar location and tracked to tributaries in the Porcupine River, upstream of the sonar site. The knowledge of current spawning locations gained from the 2013 program will be used to focus the surveys on known chum salmon spawning habitats, while also adding more previously undocumented tributaries that could support spawning chum salmon.