July 31, 2013 6:26 pm

Fish population threatened by flood waters

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Alberta floods have caused a ripple effect of damages and could threaten the province’s fish population.

Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development is calling all anglers to help with voluntary catch and release for the rest of the 2013-2014 fishing season.

“If people could refrain from using bait… and if they could practice catch and release and also use barb-less hooks,” said Emeric Janssen, Fisheries Biologist with the ESRD.

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The Post-flood Fish Recovery initiative targets free flowing bodies of water, the main focus on protecting species that live in Alberta rivers.

Officials say because of the flood’s timing spawn were either swept away in the current or left on river banks once the waters receded.

But that’s not the only up stream battle for alberta’s fish.

“Everywhere that it’s a new channel, there’s no food available to the fish,” said Max Baines, Oldman River Chapter of Trout Unlimited. “So we’re going to see very stressed fish over the next few months, because there’s very little food available.”

Officials say it’s still too soon to determine post-flood effects on fish, but insist that Albertans cooperation is short term pain.

“We can see those populations recover and in the future have bigger and better fish,” said Janssen.

A number of avid fisherman say the government’s request has put a kink in their long weekend meal plans. But Trout Unlimited says there are still ways to protect the population while catching your fish- and eating it too.

“You can still  keep your fish from the lakes. If your goal is to have a fish fry, go to a lake not a river or a stream,” said Baines.

The government’s request applies to rivers downstream of major flooding. For rivers affected in your area, visit http://www.srd.alberta.ca

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