Vol. 146, No. 21 — October 10, 2012
SOR/2012-185 September 20, 2012
Regulations Amending the Northwest Territories Fishery Regulations
P.C. 2012-1086 September 20, 2012
His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, pursuant to section 43 (see footnote a) of the Fisheries Act (see footnote b), makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Northwest Territories Fishery Regulations.
REGULATIONS AMENDING THE NORTHWEST TERRITORIES FISHERY REGULATIONS
1. Schedule VII to the Northwest Territories Fishery Regulations (see footnote 1) is amended by adding the following after item 7:
April 15 — June 15
COMING INTO FORCE
2. These Regulations come into force on the day on which they are registered.
(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)
Baker Creek flows south from a network of small lakes northeast of Yellowknife into Yellowknife Bay of Great Slave Lake. The creek originally ran through Mill Lake, and was re-routed in several locations during past mining activities at Giant Mine. Run off from the Giant Mine site and contamination have affected sediment and water quality at Baker Creek since 1949. Seasonal outflow of treated mining effluent has also had an effect on stream water and sediment quality. In the summer of 2006, 600 metres of the creek (known as Reach 4) upstream of Yellowknife Bay was re-routed in order to isolate the contaminated Mill Pond from Baker Creek.
In 1970, no fish, crustaceans or insects were present in the creek and few benthic species existed, due to the effects of mining activities. Historically, Arctic Grayling (Thymallus arcticus) and Walleye (Sander vitreus) spawned in the creek, but little is known about their populations before 1948. Studies conducted since the realignment of Reach 4 of the creek (in 2006) have shown that the modifications and habitat improvements markedly improved the spawning success of Arctic Grayling within the creek. Lake Whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis), Northern Pike (Esox lucius), Longnose Sucker (Catostomus catostomus) and White Sucker (Catostomus commersoni) also utilize habitats available in the creek and, more recently, Walleye have been observed using habitat in the lower reaches of the creek.
Baker Creek may be heavily targeted for recreational fishing due to the presence of Grayling and Walleye which are prized recreational fish species, and because it is one of the first water bodies to become ice-free in the spring and because of its close proximity to the city of Yellowknife.
Because of the extent and duration of historical impacts on Baker Creek, the numbers of fish using the creek habitat for spawning remains low. Recent enhancements to Reach 4 spawning habitat and plans to remediate other reaches of the creek on the Giant Mine site will assist in restoring some of the fish communities that once used Baker Creek. Re-establishment of spawning fish will take time, making these stocks sensitive to fishing pressures. As a result, Government intervention is currently required because continued fishing activities during spawning season (mid-April to mid-June) may inhibit recovery of fish populations, which could lead to lost fishing opportunities in the future.
The objective of the proposed regulatory action is to protect the species that are spawning in Baker Creek from being harmed or killed by catch and release or fished during the spawning season by prohibiting sport fishing while fish are spawning in order to promote the reproductive potential of the population.
Protecting species spawning in Baker Creek is best accomplished by adding Baker Creek to Column 1 of Schedule VII (Close Times) in the Northwest Territories Fishery Regulations, to prohibit sport fishing in the creek from mid-April to mid-June to protect spawning species of fish.
The amendment has been discussed at length with the Government of the Northwest Territories, the Department of the Environment, and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC — the agency responsible for the remediation project). These agencies were fully supportive of the objective to prohibit fishing during spawning season. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has sought and received a letter of support from the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, who would be the main affected group. DFO has been working with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation on Baker Creek monitoring since spring 2007–2011, and they formally support the proposed closure times. The proposed closure of Baker Creek was discussed at a public sport fishery meeting in Yellowknife in the fall of 2009, and has been brought before the Great Slave Lake Advisory Committee. This committee was established by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to provide advice and recommendations regarding the fisheries of Great Slave Lake, of which Baker Creek is a tributary. The committee reports to DFO and is comprised of members of the three First Nations and the Métis group on the lake. It also has members from the commercial fishing sector, sport fishing, as well as lodges and outfitters. In both cases, the need for the closure was fully recognized to protect the new growth in fish population. During consultations in 2009, it was noted by the Fly Kid Foundation that they would have liked to see an investment in conservation education instead of any closure, but overall they were supportive of the closure during spawning season. DFO worked with the Fly Kid Foundation to develop and install interpretive signs along the trail and creek to better educate the public about the importance of the fish resource and the work being done to protect it.
In 2008, only catch and release fishing was allowed in the creek due to uncertainty over fish health and the low numbers of fish returning. Fish-related sampling conducted on the creek found a high incidence of injuries caused by catch and release. Moreover, there is a low population size of spawning fish that could contribute to recovery of the stock, making regulatory intervention to protect this population necessary. Closing Baker Creek to fishing during the spawning season will protect fish populations by reducing mortality rates, and will aid in population recovery efforts in Baker Creek.
Prohibiting fishing in these waters during spawning season is expected to have negligible associated costs as it is commonly known and advised by appropriate agencies that the fish in Baker Creek are not edible at this time. Furthermore, sport fishing is relatively new in Baker Creek, as the recovery has been very recent. Fishing in Baker creek will remain open during the rest of the year, where certain species, such as Pike and Walleye, are accessible. It is in the public interest that DFO take measures to facilitate the recovery of the Baker Creek Grayling, to ensure future fishing opportunities when the population is recovered.
7. Implementation, enforcement and service standards
The implementation, compliance and enforcement strategies for this amendment would follow similar strategies currently in place for other locations listed in Column I of Schedule VII (Close Times) of the Northwest Territories Fishery Regulations. Initially, public notification would be issued in local newspapers and on radio stations and signage would be placed in key fishing areas surrounding Baker Creek. The regulatory change would be published in detail in the Northwest Territories Sport Fishing Guide, which is provided with every sport fishing licence issued for the Northwest Territories. During close times, DFO fishery officers and Northwest Territories Environment and Natural Resources officers would monitor and enforce the Regulations.
Fisheries Management Biologist
National Capital Region
S.C. 1991, c. 1, s. 12
R.S., c. F-14
C.R.C., c. 847; SOR/2005-108