MLCN students participate in fish monitoring
- EFN Staff | September 10, 2019
In an attempt to spark an interest in conservation and examining why there is a decline of lake trout in a northern lake, students were taken out to the land to learn about fish monitoring.
On September 6th 2019, approximately 14 Senator Allen Bird Memorial School Grade 9 students from Montreal Lake Cree Nation had the unique opportunity to participate in walleye monitoring and biological sampling demonstrations at Kingsmere Lake in Prince Albert National Park.
“I was interested in going…I learned that fish have ears and really small hearts,” said student Sadie Bell. “We went for a 2 or 3 km walk to the cabin to dissect the fish. It was nice seeing the light blue water. The walk was long but good.”
Bell added from the experience, she would like to dissect a fish in the future so she can continue learning of how fish survive in the water.
Scott Nisbitt, the public education and outreach officer with the Prince Albert National Park, said they are monitoring lake trout in Kingsmere Lake. Over the past decade or so, the population of lake trout in Kingsmere Lake is in a steady decline.
“We’re trying to investigate and determine the cause of that,” he said. “One of the theories is predation from other fish species. The top predators in the lake is walleye.”
During the process, they will be determining the average age and size of the walleye. Nisbitt added they will be dissecting walleye to examine the contents in the stomach to determine what they are eating and if that includes trout, minnows or young trout.
Parks Canada is always looking for ways to encourage young people to discover and connect with Canada’s incredible nature.
“We went to inspire the next generation of stewards,” he said. “It just seemed logical to invite these students out to see the biologists in the field and to experience what conservation is firsthand.”
Nisbitt said the experience was great for him to see the students appreciate the beauty of Kingsmere Lake which is in the backcountry of the Prince Albert National Park.
The sampling was done at the patrol cabin and research station at Kingsmere Lake which was a hike to get to.
“Parks Canada and Prince Albert National Park are committed to ensuring Indigenous connections are honoured and that Indigenous peoples can become partners in conservation of these natural and cultural heritage places like Prince Albert National Park.”
MLCN Chief Frank Roberts said this was a great opportunity for his community’s students to participate in so one day, they can learn to be part of protecting the natural waters and species of their territory.
“I think it’s good that we’re beginning to communicate with the Prince Albert National Park on a lot of fronts because for the longest time, we felt we were being pushed out from there,” said Chief Roberts. “In the past, our people lived there. When we inform our students about that, they can carry on the tradition of our history and they will have a better understanding.”
This program is part of the larger Lake Trout Monitoring Program in Kingsmere Lake and includes netting and sampling of the fish to determine age, maturity and diet. The walleye fish that is caught will be donated to the MLCN Senator Allen Bird Memorial school for their meet the teacher/parent night.