Management of Lake Char in Great Bear Lake, Canada: Historical Perspectives and Future Directions

Management of Lake Char in Great Bear Lake, Canada: Historical Perspectives and Future Directions

Kimberly L. Howland and Ross F. Tallman

Management of Lake Char in Great Bear Lake, Canada: Historical Perspectives and Future DirectionsThis is part of Fisheries Assessment and Management in Data-Limited Situations
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Description

Although small scale, the majority of fisheries in the Canadian Arctic are culturally significant and provide an important source of protein to northerners. However, they are also data poor. Thus management has been conducted at a relatively unsophisticated level. In new and developing fisheries, such as the lake char (Salvelinus namaycush) harvest in the Keith Arm area of Great Bear Lake, there is often minimal or no prior detailed scientific knowledge of population sizes, safe harvesting levels, and food web relationships. In this paper we present a case history on lake char research and management in Great Bear Lake, Northwest Territories, to demonstrate how fisheries issues have traditionally been managed in the Canadian north. Historically, there has been an unstructured pattern of managing fisheries, and a lack of formal records of management actions making it difficult to retrace past decisions. In the current framework of land claims, however, there is a need to have transparency and accountability through a structured process that incorporates the opinions of multiple stakeholders in management decisions. There is also a growing interest in the use of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) to complement scientific data. While the current DFO Regional Advisory Process does meet some of these needs, we suggest that decision analysis could provide a methodology to formally incorporate TEK, fishermen’s opinions, and social and economic concerns into future management decisions for arctic fisheries. To demonstrate how this methodology could be applied to the lake char fishery in the Keith Arm area of Great Bear Lake, we used decision analysis techniques to incorporate the effects of TEK, scientific analyses, and fishermen's opinions into a model to set total allowable harvest and regulations for the sport fishery.

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