Community Monitoring: A Four-year Summary of the Arctic Borderlands Ecological Knowledge Co-op
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Fish

Each fisher reports on his/her two most important fish resources. Reports address broad whitefish, coney, loche, arctic char, herring, dog salmon, king salmon, silver salmon, crooked back, lake trout, and grayling. Fishers’ evaluate the overall quality and quantity of fish, timing of run (where appropriate), parasites, and physical abnormalities.

Reports from local expert indicate that most fish species used for subsistence are healthy, although there is ongoing concern for abnormalities in loche livers. Mackenzie Delta fishers note that the texture of whitefish flesh has been poor (watery or mushy). In 1998, Old Crow fishers observed salmon to be in good numbers, contrary to DFO statistics indicating low escapement up river.

Loche (burbot, lingcod)

  • Unusual livers (discolored, white lumps, spots) reported
  • Elders tell of decrease in size of loche since “long ago”
  • Locals from all communities express concerned that unusual livers may be result of contaminants
  • Some attribute problem to drying of creeks and low water levels
  • Knowledge Co-op coordinates community collection of “good” and “unusual” livers in 1999-2000
  • Samples sent to lab for testing, results awaiting.

Silver, Dog, and King Salmon

Water levels are key in run timing and quality of catch. Low water levels are considered by many as the threat to salmon. However, low water may not always correspond to poor annual harvest.

  • “Horseflies are a signal that the salmon will be begin run in 4 or 5 days” (OC 96/97)
  • If water is low, then dog salmon get battered up. When high water, fish comes quickly. When water is dropping, fish tend to go faster up river, and therefore more battered (OC98/99).
  • “Lots of water, very few fish. Low water a lot of King Salmon.” (OC 96-97)
  • In high water, fish tend to stay in the middle; fewer than average fish between this year and last due to low water.” (OC 96-97)
  • “Lower water so fish had hard time to come by. Very unusual that King Salmon came along with Dog Salmon. Dog Salmon usually comes a month later.” (96-97 OC)


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