Syncrude Tagged Walleye Caught In Lesser Slave Lake

A fish tagged in an environmental monitoring program near Fort McMurray five years ago has turned up miles from home in a fishing tournament at Lesser Slave Lake.

(Fort McMurray, Alberta) A fish tagged in an environmental monitoring program near Fort McMurray five years ago has turned up miles from home in a fishing tournament at Lesser Slave Lake.

The walleye was caught by Gilbert Bradley of Valleyview and Jim Huculak of Calgary during the Golden Walleye Classic in August.

The tag showed that the fish was a long way from where it was originally captured on May 13, 1999 by Syncrude personnel participating in the Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP) in the Athabasca River north of Fort McMurray. RAMP is a joint environmental monitoring program that assesses the health of rivers and lakes in the oil sands region within the Municipality of Wood Buffalo. Syncrude is a founding member of RAMP and Terry Van Meer, a Senior Scientist at Syncrude, has been its chair for the past three years.

At the time of capture and tagging, the walleye was about five years old and weighed approximately 1.3 lbs. with a total length of about 400 mm (16 inches long). The exact weight of this fish when re-captured is not known as it was weighed in a total catch of four fish; however, it was measured to be a total length of 462 mm (18.5 inches).

David DeRosa, a Fisheries Biologist based near Slave Lake, said that most walleye in Slave Lake that measure this length are around eight years old and weigh about 2.5 pounds. He noted that walleye found in a river system generally have slower growth then those found in lakes.

It is thought that the tagged fish must have traveled to the lake via the Slave River, which flows into the Athabasca River west of the town of Athabasca. Other walleye tagged through the RAMP program have also been recaptured in Lake Athabasca, in the mouth of the Pembina River, and near the town of Peace River.

The Fish Monitoring and Tagging Program began in 1997 on the Athabasca River and tributaries that could potentially be influenced by current or future oil sands development. It is only one part of RAMP’s overall activities, but it is important as the well being and abundance of fish populations are used as indicators of overall ecosystem health and integrity.

The tags allow RAMP and Alberta Fish and Wildlife personnel to monitor fish populations and track the fish’s location to learn more about their migratory paths and determine how long fish spend in the oil sands region of the Athabasca.

According to Neil Rutley, Syncrude Environmental Technologist and a member of the RAMP Technical Committee, Syncrude’s Environmental Affairs group are committed to monitoring water quality and fish numbers in the area. “We provide personnel and equipment and do a lot of work to helping RAMP collect data. Its part of our commitment to protect the natural environment. The data we collect contributes to a growing body of research that helps industry and regional stakeholders to better understand the importance of water quality and how to protect it.”

The Syncrude Project is a joint venture operated by Syncrude Canada Ltd. and owned by Canadian Oil Sands Limited, ConocoPhillips Oilsands Partnership II, Imperial Oil Resources, Mocal Energy Limited, Murphy Oil Company Ltd., Nexen Inc., and Petro-Canada Oil and Gas.

Trading Symbols for Public Syncrude Joint Venture Owners

Canadian Oil Sands Trust
(via Canadian Oil Sands Limited and Canadian Oil Sands Limited Partnership)
ConocoPhillips Oilsands Partnership IICOP/NYSE
Imperial Oil ResourcesIMO-TSX
Murphy Oil Company Ltd.MUR-NYSE

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