What is Electrofishing?

You may have heard others use the term electrofishing. You then probably asked yourself what is electrofishing?

Electrofishing is a common scientific method of sampling fish. It involves using a small amount of electricity to momentarily stun fish at a site. They are immediately caught in a net so they can be identified, weighed, measured and released safely back into the water.

Electrofishing is performed by CVC staff and volunteers dressed in chest waders and arms-length rubber gloves. Trained staff carry electrofishing backpacks or push a small boat, and together, teams catch, identify, record and release the fish species.

Sampling fish is important to measure watershed health because fish are sensitive to any changes in water and on land. Electrofishing is part of CVC’s Integrated Watershed Monitoring Program. Data from fish communities is summarized using an Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI). This IBI score indicates the relative health of the site based on the sensitivity of fish species present.

Long term monitoring shows that fish health across the watershed is declining. Brook trout are a sensitive indicator of healthy aquatic habitat. When brook trout populations are in decline, we need to look carefully at the water quantity and quality to determine why, and then act to improve the quality and quantity.

If you would like to try your hand at something new and important, register online in the spring of 2014 to volunteer for electrofishing.  Visit CVC’s events calendar at cvc.ca/events.

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