Trans Mountain’s fisheries research teams have put ‘boots on the ground’ at more than 1,000 locations in British Columbia and Alberta as they map out potentially sensitive habitat along our proposed pipeline route.

Led by Calum Bonnington, a registered professional biologist based in Calgary, they’re looking for fish — trout, salmon, and other species — in more than 1,000 bodies of water that touch along the route for our proposed pipeline expansion project.

Since the fisheries program was launched in 2012, up to nine separate research crews under Bonnington’s direction (six in B.C. and three in Alberta), have waded streams, dipped nets in lakes and ponds, and in some cases updated topographical maps when they find locations that don’t actually hold water.

The tried-and-true technology for fisheries researchers in streams is electrofishing, using a device that radiates a mild electrical current. Fish in the vicinity swim upstream, where they’re trapped briefly in nets, counted, and released unharmed.

“We are purely focused on fish. That’s not saying we don’t collect observations on other things we see, toads, frogs, and salamanders if they happen to be there when we are doing our investigations,” Bonnington said, adding that Trans Mountain has separate research teams for non-fish species living around bodies of water.

Trans Mountain plans to have fisheries biologists on site to monitor pipeline construction around water bodies, making sure fish are safely relocated away from in-stream activity if necessary. They’re also experts at restoring habitat after work is complete, and where possible, adding boulders or woody debris that help young fish thrive.

After construction, monitoring will continue until they’re satisfied that habitat around construction areas is fully recovered.