Fisheries Science

Providing the tools to protect and enhance our shared fisheries resources

Understanding fisheries is essential for the ongoing protection of aquatic resources amid human-induced impacts. Fisheries science focuses on assessing fish population dynamics, food web interactions, fish health and aquatic habitats.

Palmer Environmental Consulting Group Inc. (PECG) is a leader in fisheries science consulting, providing a wide range of aquatic services that assist clients in minimizing project effects on fish and complying with environmental legislation.

PECG’s fisheries science work supports aquatic/fisheries baseline and impact assessments, environmental monitoring and permitting, and fish habitat offsetting (compensation) planning.

Our Fisheries Science specialty spans five core disciplines:

Fish Population Studies

PECG specializes in conducting baseline studies of fish populations in river and lake environments. Fish sampling provides insight into fish population abundance, distribution, composition, life history use and food web structure. Fish habitat assessments further identify fish habitat suitability for various species and life stages.

 PECG uses various fish assessment methods, including general fish population baseline data collection, stream crossing surveys, fish passage determination, fish spawning assessments, fish diet analysis and ageing studies, and metal analyses of fish tissues.

 Knowledge of the pre-existing quantity and nature of fisheries resources is critical for minimizing project impacts on valued commercial, recreational and aboriginal fisheries, and for ensuring project compliance with environmental legislation, such as the Fisheries Act and Species At Risk Act.

Fish Habitat Offsetting (Compensation)

Fish habitat offsetting (compensation) plans may be required when project activities are anticipated to impact fisheries productivity. Offsetting measures may include habitat creation or restoration, invasive species management, fish stocking, improved fish passage, or scientific research directives.

PECG has developed fish habitat offsetting plans in support of environmental assessments for major mining projects in British Columbia and Yukon. We designed these plans to maximize fisheries productivity in accordance with the fisheries goals of various stakeholders and regional fisheries management objectives.

Our understanding of the implications of recent changes to the Fisheries Act (enacted November 2013) has encouraged existing clients to extend our contracts as their projects continue to advance through the permitting process.

Aquatic Community Studies

Aquatic organisms such as algae and invertebrates provide important ecological roles, such as supplying food and habitat for fish. These organisms are also commonly used as indicators for ecosystem productivity, health and predicted resilience to disturbance.

At PECG, we have conducted numerous baseline aquatic community studies in both river and lake systems using various sampling and assessment methods, including the Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN) protocol.

In-stream Flow Assessment

In-stream flow assessments provide a means of quantifying available fish habitat under different flow regimes based on the known habitat suitability preferences of different fish species. Assessment results facilitate an understanding of how flow-related project impacts will affect fish usage.

In collaboration with in-stream flow modeling specialists, PECG has completed in-stream flow assessments for proposed flow change scenarios using Physical Habitat Simulation (PHABSIM) modeling for northern fish species such as Arctic grayling. We have also assessed reductions in useable habitat due to complete losses of water by applying Habitat Evaluation Procedures (HEP). We use the modeling results to determine changes in post-project habitat and fish abundance.

Third-Party Technical Review

Third-party reviews of technical work are often a requirement in environmental assessments and other permitting activities.

As recognized leaders in Fisheries Science, PECG is regularly invited to provide third-party technical reviews in the mining and energy sectors. We strive to provide reviews that are fair, thorough and highlight key issues for our clients.