Barnes Lake classroom

The Aboriginal Environmental Technician Program uses Barnes Lake and other local waterways as classrooms.

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by Marilyn Bueckert

Alan McNeill, of Vancouver Island University, was at Barnes Lake on May 21 with 14 students from the Aboriginal Environmental Technician Program. The course would eventually lead to certification by the B.C. Government to safely sample fish and check the environment. Today they were learning about Electrofishing.

First, minnow traps were set in both Barnes and Willard Lakes but no minnows were found in either of the lakes. They then moved to a nearby stream and used an electrofisher (run by batteries) to temporarily stun the fish, who were then caught in a scoop net or a pole seine. When they were placed into a bucket, they were measured and checked before being released back into the stream.

Safety was paramount and all the students had to wear electrical linesmen gloves and rubber waders so they were not shocked. Those without protection had to maintain a distance of five feet from the stream.

Some of the trout were up to 36 cm in length. One of the students reported that a lot of the fish were spawning. Knowing that now, the instructor would not do a lot of sampling due to the spawning but the creek served well to demonstrate the effectiveness of the electronic gear.

Further down the Thompson, northern squawfish were caught, along with a redside shiner and a sucker.

One of the young students will be working up at Highland Valley checking on the fish there. Many of the others are hoping to find work in BC in this new profession.

Marilyn Bueckert

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