Fisheries resource project funded

The Living Legacy Trust has awarded Rainy River First Nations $179,500 for a Resources Stewardship Framework model focused on fishery resources.
Executive director Karan Aquino was at the Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung Historical Centre last Thursday to congratulate Rainy River First Nations Chief Gary Medicine and the band on receiving funding for the project.
“The project will focus on the Rainy River watershed to identify priority fisheries resources issues and establish responsive programs,” she noted.
“It is very exciting to support a project which integrates traditional knowledge with innovative scientific approaches to fish and wildlife management,” Aquino added.
The effort should provide researchers with a new body of knowledge to help develop a framework that will co-ordinate development for land and water use of the watershed.
“This investment will provide an innovative resource stewardship model for the Rainy River basin—a unique approach that other First Nations can use to develop co-operative stewardship initiatives in their own watershed,” said Chief Medicine.
“This strategic planning exercise marks the first for such an initiative under the leadership of a First Nation.”
With the funding, the watershed program will take on a number of projects, including a habitat inventory, an impact assessment on the banks of the river, a study on the juvenile sturgeon habitat, a low-flow quality monitoring project on the tributaries, and a fish contaminant sampling on the Rainy River, including mercury and pesticide sampling.
Rainy River First Nations, together with its partners, has been gathering fishery resource information over the past few weeks based on traditional knowledge and innovative scientific approaches that will advance the understanding of aquatic ecology in the watershed.
“Conclusions from the field projects will influence key management environmental strategies in the Rainy River sub-watershed—strategies important to the environmental health of our future generations,” Chief Medicine said
The program involves a coalition of partners led by the Rainy River First Nations to accomplish three key objectives:
•to identify knowledge gaps and set strategic priorities for management of the fisheries resources of the Rainy River and its tributaries on an ecologically-sound basis;
•to develop a stewardship framework model for managing natural resources of the Rainy River watershed; and
•to gather additional fisheries resource information based on traditional knowledge and innovative scientific approaches that will advance the understanding of aquatic ecology, as well as additional science and management needs in the watershed.
“The project was supported under funding program nine: ecological approach to fish and wildlife management,” noted Aquino.
“The initiative is an excellent fit with the [Living Legacy Trust] goals of this program area, which are to provide funding for other projects which support an ecological approach to fish and wildlife management.
“We are excited that other aboriginal communities are interested in looking at this model and that there may be opportunities to transfer this approach to other communities.
“We are looking forward to seeing the results of this project in the near future,” she remarked.
In conjunction with other federal, provincial, and municipal governments, this project will be completed over the next 12 months at a total cost of more than $400,000.