Tuesday June 18, 2024


Johnnie Storr grew up fishing with his dad in the hamlet of Aklavik, a small town on the Mackenzie River Delta in Canada’s Northwest Territories. Depending on the season, they looked for Arctic char, Dolly Varden or whitefish.

“We fished for char in the fall time,” Storr said. “Soon as there was enough ice, we walked out and set nets for whitefish.”

Storr is Inuvialuit and Gwich’in, and heads the local Hunters and Trappers Committee, which helps manage Indigenous hunting rights in the region. He said elders say chum salmon have always lived in small numbers in the Mackenzie River, but in the last decade there has been a clear uptick.

“I think it was 2019 where we have seen a big jump,” he said. “I think we had at least 300 salmon brought into the Hunters and Trappers Committee.”

In recent years, all five salmon species have shown up in rivers from northeast Alaska to Nunavut, in Canada’s eastern Arctic. Chum salmon, one of the most cold-tolerant salmon species, are the most commonly found.

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