Iqaluit fishers told not to waste Arctic Char

Fisheries officers in Nunavut say fewer fish are being wasted at the Sylvia Grinnell River.
In past years, Fisheries and Oceans Canada in Nunavut has found bags of fish left rotting in the sun. (File)
Fisheries officers in Nunavut have said they're making process in reducing the amoung of fish wasted at the Sylvia Grinnell River. 

About five years ago Fisheries and Oceans Canada released photos of fisheries officers holding up bags of Arctic char left rotting in the sun.

Chris Lewis, a biologist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, said some fish are still being wasted but the situation seems to be improving.

"We have noticed quite a drop in the numbers of fish that have been discarded and left on the banks near the falls, so the message is getting out there and we're quite happy about that," he said.

One concern that still remains is snagging.

Lewis says there's not enough data to say it's a conservation concern.

"But one thing we do know about snagging is that it's indiscriminate and you can't really pick which fish you're targeting so it does have the potential to catch quite a number of small char which would include some of the pre-spawners that are important," Lewis said.

Last week, fisheries officers posted a new sign at the Sylvia Grinnell River in Iqaluit. It outlines the life cycle of the char, and also includes advice from local elders Sammy Josephee and Serapio Ittusardjuat not to waste any fish.

It's part of a campaign to encourage people to fish responsibly.

Fisheries officers have also been conducting research on the health and population of fish in the river, which once supported a commercial fishery.

They began tagging and measuring fish in 2009. The results of the research should be available in the next few weeks.