The Tłı̨chǫ Aquatic Effects Monitoring Program or ‘Fish Camp’ was held at Russell Lake on August 26 - 30, 2019. This was the first year that the camp was run by the Tłı̨chǫ Government (TG), with the WRRB acting in a supporting role. Those who attended the camp took boats to the site, which TG has been building for several years. The camp attendees consisted of four elders, two translators, a cook, a fish biologist from Golder Associates, representatives from TG, including students from their Monitoring Program, as well as Aimee Guile, WRRB Conservation Biologist, and Randi Jennings, WRRB Wildlife Management Biologist. The camp has been held in Behchokǫ̀ four times now, including the pilot year, which took place in 2010. This year, 39 fish were caught, including 20 Łıh (Lake Whitefish) and 19 Łıwezǫǫ̀ (Northern Pike). Other samples were also taken, including sediment cores and water samples, which were dropped off for testing at Taiga Environmental Laboratory in Yellowknife.
Over the course of the last three camps at this site, the samples taken have determined that the overall health and vitality of Russell Lake is good, which means the fish are safe to eat, and the water is safe to drink. Answering these questions speaks to the intention of Fish Camp and why each community is visited for sampling on a rotating schedule.
The WRRB biologists helped with the identification, weighing, measuring, and general health assessment of each fish that was caught as well as making notes on any parasites found. They enjoyed listening to stories shared by elders and learning about the area. The staff found the camp to be well organized with safety as a top concern. The results from this fish camp are expected in early 2020 with TG presenting their report in Behchokǫ̀ sometime in the spring.
For further information on past fish camps, click here.