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Home News ‘Fishing for anglers’: Parks Canada looking for public input to help reverse declining Lake Trout population in Kingsmere Lake

‘Fishing for anglers’: Parks Canada looking for public input to help reverse declining Lake Trout population in Kingsmere Lake

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‘Fishing for anglers’: Parks Canada looking for public input to help reverse declining Lake Trout population in Kingsmere Lake
Researchers take part in a project on Crean Lake, just east of Kingsmere Lake inside Prince Albert National Park. -- Parks Canada/Submitted

The Lake Trout population has declined in Kingsmere Lake over the last decade, and Parks Canada has organized an online meeting to help reverse the trend.

Park studies show a 45 per cent decline in Lake Trout over the last decade. Parks Canada ecologist Brad Lloyd said trout populations in the boreal part of the north tend to fluctuate, so a decrease isn’t always cause for concern. However, the trend they’re seeing over the past 10 years has ecologists worried.

“It’s the trigger that says, ‘yeah, you’ve got to look into this a little bit further, see what’s going on, see what we can do to halt the decline and get them (the fish population) back to a healthier (level),” Lloyd said during a phone interview on Thursday.

“We don’t expect to lose that population, but it’s serious enough that we’re definitely taking some steps to find out what’s going on.”

The online meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 7, starting at 7 p.m. Lloyd said they’re looking to hear from people who use Kingsmere Lake the most, since time on the water provides a better understanding of the state of the lake and the health of the species.

Residents can learn more about the meeting or register in advance by emailing panptrout-touladispnpa@pc.gc.ca.

“If we can raise a bit of interest and get a few more people to attend the meeting, so much the better,” Lloyd said. “There’s a pool of knowledge out there that’s sometimes hard to tap into, and we’re hoping that this can be a way for us to tap into it a little bit.

It’s no different from some of the Indigenous knowledge we’re able to gain from our Indigenous partners as well,” he added. “It’s all this experiential knowledge that they’ve got that does help paint a bigger picture, and helps with figuring out better solutions, so that’s why we’re fishing for anglers.”

Lake Trout what ecologists call an indicator species, meaning their health tells park authorities a lot about the health of the surrounding environment. When they noticed trout stocks dropping in Kingsmere, they immediately began tracking populations in other lakes, like Wassegam in the north end of Prince Albert National Park, to check for a similar decline.

Lloyd said they discovered a slight increase in Wassegam Lake trout, leading them to believe that whatever the problem is, it’s confined to Kingsmere.

“That may be a good thing in that it might be an easier problem to solve, so we’ll see what we can do,” Lloyd said.

The April 7 meeting is just the first step on the lengthy road towards turning around the declining Lake Trout numbers. Ideally, Lloyd would like to have an advisory group in place by fall so they can prepare possible policy or regulation changes, which will likely take at least a year or two to implement.

“It’s going to depend a lot on what we’re going to hear from the meeting,” he said. “We’re just trying to generate some interest.”

Lloyd added that they have a few more events planned for the summer to hear input from the public.

Lakes in the boreal area of Northern Saskatchewan are a bit different from those found further north in the Canadian Shield. The biggest difference is access. Lloyd said lakes in the boreal area are isolated from each other, meaning Lake Trout populations don’t migrate between lakes to re-establish populations.

Kingsmere Lake is located west of Crean Lane and northwest of Waskesiu Lake inside Prince Albert National Park.