Stewart River Chinook Salmon Sonar Site Feasibility

The proposed project is a sonar feasibility assessment for the mainstem Stewart River within the Traditional Territory of the First Nation of the Na’Cho Nyäk Dun (FNNND). The FNNND remains concerned about low Chinook returns to the Stewart River watershed in recent years and has a goal to initiate operation of a sonar enumeration project in the near future in order to provide an escapement count for the watershed. The Stewart River watershed does not currently have any assessment projects for Chinook despite being defined as a Yukon Chinook salmon conservation unit (CU-74) and accounting for 6-10% of the Canadian origin Chinook (based on drainage wide telemetry projects and recent genetic sampling at Eagle Sonar).
The FNNND collaborated with EDI during 2015 to determine the feasibility of operating sonar on the mainstem Stewart River including the investigation of 26 candidate sites between the McQuesten River and the confluence with the Yukon River. Much of the work done by this 2015 project is still applicable and does not need to be repeated; however, in order to ensure that sonar can adequately be deployed in the next 1-3 years, confirmation of the two high suitability sites identified during 2015 is proposed for 2021. The proposed project will involve visiting these two candidate sites to: deploy an ARIS sonar to determine image quality, collect bathymetric data, determine test fishing locations, and investigate camp and access point locations.