B.C. Grant Supports First Nations’ Fishery Research
For Immediate Release
Feb. 21, 2007
Ministry of Environment
Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
PRINCE GEORGE – The Lheidli T’enneh Band will receive a B.C. government grant of nearly $40,000 for an in-depth assessment of burbot habitat, populations and angling pressure in the Omineca region, Environment Minister Barry Penner announced today.
“This project will gather key information about the burbot fishery in the Lheidli T’enneh fish area,” said Penner. “It will help the band build on its existing knowledge of burbot, resulting in a better, more efficient management of the fish population, both as a traditional/sustenance and sports fishery.”
According to the Lheidli T’enneh, the study of burbot (also known as lingcod or eelpout) has become a priority in recent years, as there is currently very little biological information available on the species. In addition, contemporary studies in other regions show that developing fisheries can often deplete fish populations quickly, as they tend to target fish in the spawning stages.It is believed that summer low flows, high summer temperatures and changes to wood debris in streams may also have an impact on burbot populations. The assessment will provide baseline information to gauge the potential effects of the mountain pine beetle infestation on burbot spawning and rearing areas in the Lheidli T’enneh fish area, as identified through the treaty negotiation process.
“The first Final Agreement under the B.C. Treaty process was initialled with the Lheidli T’enneh Band late last year. A final treaty will bring social and economic benefits to the Prince George region,” said Michael de Jong, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation. “Our relationship with the band continues to strengthen, exemplified by joint efforts to protect fish stocks important to the Lheidli T’enneh people.”
The assessment will use roving creels and digital trail cameras to collect information on the effect of current fishing trends on burbot population and habitat. Additional information collected through catching and tagging of specimens will shed further light on the life history and biology of the species.
“The project is a good starting point towards ensuring that these fish populations are managed for sustainability,” said Lheidli T’enneh Chief Dominic Frederick. “This co-operative project will provide important information about the status of burbot populations and their level of harvest, as well as information that will allow for effective management into the future, as the impacts of the mountain pine beetle on our waterways occur.”
The burbot is the only member of the cod family found in North American fresh waters. Funding for this assessment will come from the Federal Mountain Pine Beetle and Ecological Restoration Fund, recovered through the Ministry of Forests and Range and allocated through the Ministry of Environment.