Meet our Research Team

June 16, 2023
Home » News » Science & Research » Meet our Research Team

The Freshwater Fisheries Society’s Science Division has staff throughout the province. They undertake research to advance our fish culture practices, improving the survival and performance of fish raised and released in British Columbia. Our science professionals also provide technical expertise and support to the provincial fisheries program for the conservation of wild fish stocks, and management of B.C.’s thriving recreational fisheries. The division is supported by specialists in the fields of fish culture, fish health, genetics, fish biology, and sport fisheries management. Working in partnership with academic, government, industry, and stakeholder groups, our science professionals rock! They are making great strides in improving our understanding of key issues facing provincial freshwater fisheries.

Read on to learn more about the members of our science team, and the research they are undertaking to help make sport fishing in B.C. even better.

Paul Askey, Fisheries Scientist

Paul is interested in all aspects of recreational fisheries management. With his expertise in quantitative analysis, he develops models and interactive tools to predict the outcomes of potential management decisions (such as stocking programs or harvest regulations) on stocked and wild fish populations. Tapping into the growing provincial dataset, Paul is interested in examining how outcomes on a specific fishery can be applied on a broader scale. Paul also provides technical advice, and is involved in the restoration of kokanee stocks in Okanagan and Kootenay lakes.

Research focus keywords: recreational fisheries management, catchability, kokanee, angler effort, fisheries modelling, stocking optimization. Link to publications.

M. Kirstin Gale, Senior Research and Development Biologist

Kirstin has a background studying the ecology and physiology of both salmon and trout in fresh water. This includes the impacts of climate change, temperature stress, and catch-and-release fishing. Her current focus is on evaluating fish-culture practices to ensure that the Society maintains healthy broodstock while reducing impacts on wild fish populations, with the goal of enhancing opportunities for British Columbians to enjoy fishing.

Research focus keywords: recreational fisheries, salmonids, ecology, broodstock management, small-lakes fisheries, river fisheries, catch-and-release. Link to publications.

Marcus Boucher, Research and Development Biologist

Marcus studies how habitat and the early rearing environment affect the growth, survival, and physiology of trout and sturgeon and, from this, what the applications are for hatchery rearing methods. With a keen interest in the science behind fish culture, his current research seeks to improve growth, survival, and fish quality for rearing both conservation and recreational fish stocks. Marcus also provides technical support for small-lake assessments (including effort monitoring and creel surveys), and assists with milt cryopreservation, egg collection, juvenile fish sexing, and broodstock screening for our fish-culture program.

Research focus keywords: larval sturgeon, physiology, aquaculture, substrate, alevin, strain evaluation. Link to publications.

Sara Northrup, Senior Research and Development Biologist

Sara’s primary role with the Society is to evaluate which fish species, strain, size, and ploidy performs best in different freshwater environments. Her current research focus is evaluating the performance of trout strains in lakes with mixed species, determining methods to increase trout survival in high-pH lakes, and evaluating differences in catchability among rainbow trout strains. She also provides genetic support for the Society’s fish culture program, helping the province maintain healthy and viable stocked recreational fisheries.

Research focus keywords: strain evaluation, catchability, pH-tolerance, genetics, aquaculture. Link to publications.

Theresa Godin, Senior Research and Development Biologist

Theresa’s research focusses on developing and evaluating fish stocks or strains for potential hatchery production in the future. Her work in developing all-female and sterile stocks of rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and kokanee has allowed fisheries managers to improve fishing for anglers while minimizing risk to wild populations. By evaluating the relative performance of new fish stocks in challenging conditions (such as high pH, high densities of non-salmonid competitor and/or predator species, or low-productivity oligotrophic coastal lakes), she also helps managers determine what fish are best suited for different lake environments. In addition, Theresa provides technical support and expertise for small-lake assessments, milt cryopreservation methods, and live-fish capture techniques.

Research focus keywords: fish stock development and evaluation, sterile and all-female fish, kokanee, recreational fisheries management, management tools. Link to publications.

Our Science Division also maintains two labs. The Fish Health Unit provides year ’round diagnostic assessments on all hatchery-reared fish and diagnostic support for B.C.’s wild fish stocks. The B.C. Provincial Aging Lab, established in June 2017, provides consistent, reliable and timely aging data to support the research and management decisions