Fishing Branch River Chum Habitat Assessment

The Fishing Branch River is a major spawning destination for Porcupine River chum salmon. Past R&E work has indicated that in excess of 65% of chum salmon in the upper Porcupine River have been known to spawn in the upper reaches of the river, above the site of the DFO enumeration weir. The 2011 Integrated Fisheries Management Plan developed by DFO and the Yukon River Panel included an escapement goal of 20,000 to 49,000 chum salmon at the Fishing Branch weir. However, since 2006, counts at the weir have been displaying a downward trend and fallen within the lower end of, or below this range during the last several years. In addition, recent chum salmon returns at the Fishing Branch weir have been lower relative to Yukon River border escapement than historical returns, despite active in-season harvest management.
In 2016, the Vuntut Gwitch’in Government (VGG) is proposing to conduct a third year of chum habitat assessments on the Fishing Branch River, upstream of the former weir site. VGG initiated this project with baseline habitat assessments in 2013/2014, and is currently preparing to conduct field work associated with the 2015/2016 program. Year 2 of this program includes project activities up to and including data logger/instrumentation retrieval in the summer of 2016. The Year 3 project includes additional redd surveys, additional hydrological and water quality investigations, renewed focus on side channel areas and new work to map out small scale groundwater discharge areas.