John Guest Phillips Travelling Scholarship

Brief Report by Catherine Shaw - September 2000


Trip to the Fraser River, British Columbia, Canada

The Fraser River in British Columbia, Canada, poses a serious threat to both people and property in the Fraser Valley during its annual flood as a result of increasing levels of sediment deposition in the river channel. One of the potential solutions to this problem is to mine gravel from the river bed to increase the channel volume available to accommodate the flood waters. However, the Fraser River is of significant economic importance to the Salmonid fisheries industry in North America, with millions of fish returning to the river each year to spawn. The potential impacts of gravel extraction on fish populations, and the general ecology of the river, are currently being investigated by researchers at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and the Geography Department at Loughborough University.

I spent three weeks in Canada working as a field assistant on this project, and was involved in several aspects of this study. Beach seine nets and gill nets were used to conduct a fish habitat survey, to identify which habitats are of importance to the different species of fish found in the Fraser River, and Surber sampling and drift-netting techniques were utilised to investigate the distributions of aquatic insects (the primary food source for the fish) in the river. Surveys of major gravel bars were also carried out to investigate the processes of sediment erosion and deposition in operation in the Fraser River system.

Catherine Shaw
Department of Geography

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Secretary to Prizes Committee
October 2000
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