Fish biologists will be spending the next two weeks catching and releasing burbot on Moyie Lake for hatchery egg collection.
The project is part of recovery efforts for the Lower Kootenay burbot population, which have been fished for sport and substinence out of Kootenay Lake and Kootenay River, as well as down across the Canada/USA border, according to a press release from the provincial government.
The goal is to collect five million to seven million fertilized eggs from up to 25 families, with all fish caught being tagged and released back into the lake.
The population was recognized to be at risk of local extinction during the mid-1990s, but collaborative recovery efforts are ongoing between B.C. and American interests such as the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, Idaho Fish and Game, US Army Corps of Engineers, and the University of Idaho.
Fertilized eggs from Moyie Lake have been raised in a hatchery in Idaho and released back into Kootenay Lake and Kootenay River since 2009.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Deveopment has continuously monitored the burbot population in Moyie Lake for the last 10 years, which is comprised of approximately 10,000 spawning burbot.
Since the program began, spawning survival has remained relatively constant at 83 per cent. On average, biologists handle 360 fish per season, collecting between 0.02 and 0.03 per cent of Moyie Lake’s available eggs.
The ministry is hoping to collect eggs exclusively from the Kootenay River stock starting in 2022. Population targets for Kootenay Lake is 20,000 burbot by 2028, which will inovlve release 60,000 juveniles per year.
If any member of the public catches a tagged burbot, they are encouraged to let the minstry know by calling 250-354-6333. Pertinent information includes the location of the catch, length of the fish, weight and sex.