Arctic coalfish are distributed throughout the Canadian Arctic Ocean, including the islands of the Arctic Archipelago. Although this species is also found in many rivers and lakes in the far north of Canada, it is the most sought after species for marine-operated food and commercial uses. Arctic coal is an important cultural, livelihood and economic resource in the Arctic. There is a range of commercial fishing in oceanic tidal and river waters, and many subsistence fishing for Canada’s Inuit. Arctic charcoal is a highly priced delicacy, marketed mainly fresh and frozen as whole fish and steaks. A small amount is also processed into value-added products such as smoked charcoal and dried meat.
Arctic coal has its northernmost distribution among freshwater fish. This species varies widely in body shape, shape and color typical of most trout species. For example, spawning fish in the Cambridge Bay area have an orange back, flanks, and belly, with color intensity most pronounced in males. Arctic coal may be anadrome, moving towards the sea in the spring and returning in the autumn or remaining permanently in fresh water.
Fishing in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago
Arctic coal fishing is important to the Inuit and many arctic people’s subsistence economy. These fishing are concentrated near communities and are mostly carried out using nets. In 2004, the subsistence harvest in the Cambridge Bay area was estimated at about 50% of the commercial harvest. Arctic char’s first commercial fishing operation started in Cambridge Bay. Fishing is prosecuted by glamorous fashion using weirs and gillnets. Weirs can be traditional stone weirs or can be made using channel pipe to create a fence that directs coal into a trap. Gillnets are typically set up near the shore in marine and estuarine areas, and in lakes during the winter.
A number of commercial fishing takes place in various river systems in the Canadian Arctic, most of which occur in Nunavut, such as Cumberland Sound and Cambridge Bay areas. There is also exploratory fishing to study the potential for future commercial coal fishing grounds. Considering the geographical distribution and structure of fishing, abundance status and trend data are limited. However, there are indications that commercial stocks are stable. Conservation measures Arctic coal fishing in the Canadian Arctic region is managed in collaboration with relevant co-management partners. Conservation measures for commercial fisheries include minimum mouth size and total harvest levels.
DFO scientists, external experts, and fish harvesters regularly review Arctic char stock assessments and the results are posted on the Canada Science Advisory Secretariat Web site. Although these are insufficient stocks in terms of data, biological data collected from fisheries show that a wide range of sizes and ages are available without loss of advanced age classes. This indicates that current levels of exploitation are likely to be sustainable. Information about the state of the oceans is also collected to better understand the impact of environmental conditions on coal populations. For example, research activities have made some evaluations and they are as follows:
• Coal biodiversity and trophic (feeding) variation in northern Canada and its role in the structure and function of the ecosystem,
• The thermal ecology of the characters and how climate change may affect them,
The link between climate change and the bioaccumulation of mercury,
Changes in character populations as observed through direct community-based monitoring,
Basic capture-based models such as mean capture with depletion correction and status quo models are used for stock assessment of Arctic coal. In addition, a number of approaches were used, including Bayesian and life history invariant based residual production models, age-structured models and zero. Commercial Arctic coal fishing in Nunavut is subject to a series of management measures designed to promote the sustainability and conservation of the coal resource. Protection measures include, but are not limited to. Includes minimum gillnet net size, total harvest levels, and community-based monitoring. The management of this fishing is complex due to the lack of harvest data, the widespread distribution of Arctic coal and its biological complexity. New approaches are being developed that use harvest and habitat information as well as life history parameters.
Canadian Arctic Mainland Fishing
Livelihood, commercial and recreational fishing are important activities in the Canadian Arctic, both culturally and economically. Most commercial fishing is limited to lakes under a certain quota system, while subsistence fishing is limited to rivers and streams around communities. There are two different fishing seasons, summer and winter. In the Mackenzie River Basin, the fish production rate is low due to late maturity and slow growth rate, but large fish stocks are high. The remote locations of commercial fishing in the Mackenzie River Basin are a limiting factor and most commercial fishing is not suitable. Due to low species diversity and low productivity, the Mackenzie River Basin is less resistant to anthropogenic influences.
Commercial fishing in the Mackenzie River Basin is dominated by whitefish, and other low-value fish are often thrown back. The lake vulture has the ability to respond to abuse and is the basis of its success. Reliable data on actual fish yield from the Mackenzie River Basin are lacking. Fish stocks in the Mackenzie Great Bear sub-basin have been assessed, but have not occurred regularly. The harvest of different fish species is regularly monitored by DFO by recreational and commercial fishermen. Great Bear Lake is world famous for its award-winning lake trout. From the 1970s to the 1980s there was a decrease in lake trout harvest. However, protection measures have been adopted including the application of catches and the use of hairless hooks. The current harvest of lake trout in Great Bear Lake is below maximum sustainable yields.
Subsistence fishing occurs in the Inuvialuit, Gwich, Sahtu and Deh Cho areas of the lower Mackenzie River Basin. Large vines and lagoons are important species in subsistence hunting, along with inconnu and cisco lake. Subsistence fishing has decreased in recent years due to the declining dependence on dogs. Due to its high productivity, the lower Mackenzie River large whitefish can withstand commercial and subsistence exploitation. The broad whitefish is one of the most important species for aboriginal fishing in the lower Mackenzie River and Delta. The Joint Fisheries Management Committee (FJMC) works in partnership with DFO to jointly manage all fish, fish habitats and marine mammals in the Inuvialuit Settlement. Provides advice on Direct Fishing and Ocean fishing.
The committee is responsible for collecting harvest information and making recommendations on subsistence quotas for fish and harvests quotas for marine mammals. Tuktoyaktuk, Aklavik, Inuvik, Ft. McPherson, Tsiigehtchic, and Ft. Hope harvests large whitefish for subsistence and commercial purposes. Tetlit Gwich’s First Nation of Fort McPherson catches large whitefish from the Peel River for home use. The annual catch is approximately 10-12 thousand fish per year. Changing lifestyles and less dog use for transport have reduced overall fish harvest. Rat River is an important subsistence fishing for Gwich in the Northwest Territories, the Rat River Dolly Varden is associated with the char.
The Rat River Dolly Varden char is a largely anadromous population, upstream from the Arctic Ocean along the Mackenzie Delta, spring water tributary Njik, in the spring-fed water ponds known as Fish Creek in Fish Creek. Fishing at Great Slave Lake Basin includes subsistence, sporting and commercial fishing. However, reliable up-to-date data are available for commercial fishing water areas such as Great Slave Lake. There are six fish management areas in Great Slave Lake, each area with its own management plan. The eastern arm and certain coastal areas are closed to commercial fishing, however, the eastern branch is managed for a trophy lake trout fishing. Commercial fishing on Great Slave Lake is the largest fishing in the Mackenzie River Basin, with around 1100 tons of catch. 80% of this is white lake fish and 10% pike. The exploitation of fish stocks in Great Slave Lake has in some cases affected fish populations, for example the lake trout population declined in the western basin 40 years ago. There has been a decline in commercial fisheries since 1990, due to reduced efforts from lifestyle changes. Information on fish stocks and harvest is incomplete and management often takes a precautionary approach to management.
Inconnu in Some Great Arms to the Great Slave Lake
There are also reports of a decrease in their population. However, whitefish stocks and commercial harvest of this species appear to be sustainable. The commercial harvest is about 500 tonnes against a quota of 1800 tonnes, and consists of eighty percent of those caught, with about 10% culling of lake egrets. The Great Slave Lake Advisory Committee (GSLAC) advises DFO on fisheries management issues and ensures long-term conservation of fish and fish habitat. All communities living in Great Slave Lake Basin have subsistence fishing that is poorly tracked. Traditional knowledge surveys and recent evidence show that subsistence harvest is less than 5% of the total commercial harvest.
Whitefish account for 68% of the general subsistence catch, while the Kakisa and Tathlina lakes support important walleye fishing, which accounts for more than 70% of the commercially harvested walleye each year in the NWT. Three major fisheries, including commercial, subsistence and sporting fishermen, use fish stocks in the Liard sub-basin. Lakes Watson, Frances, and Simpson are popular for lake trout and pike. White sucker, northern pike, cod, walleye, lake whitefish, inconnu, and Arctic grassland are an important part of subsistence fishing in the Liard sub-basin. The main fisheries management problems in the Mackenzie River Basin are the potential for over-harvesting of migrant stocks, which can be hunted in other areas. In addition, the harvested fish stocks have the potential for damage and negative potential due to winter or summer heating. There may be impacts from pipeline, transport, mining and hydropower developments.
Various evaluation models and methods have been used for stock assessment. Survey and commercial catch rate indices have been used in Great Slave Lake and other fishing areas. Trends in age structure and capture curve analysis are the most commonly used approach, but surplus models have been applied.
Author: Ozlem Guvenc Agaoglu