Fish surveys are an important tool when investigating the biotic integrity of a body of water since the fish assemblage is constantly exposed to the water in question. Additionally, fish surveys can be performed to check on the health of the population, by examining the age and sizes (weights) of the fish, and the proportion of predators to prey when attempting to optimize a fisheries. Sometimes, fish surveys are conducted to determine the safety of the game fish for human consumption, and usually contaminants such as PCBs, mercury, lead, or other toxic materials are analyzed within the edible portions of the fish. In West Virginia, the State has developed a fish tissue monitoring program which allows coal companies to sample fish to monitor for safe levels of selenium within the tissue, not for human consumption, but to ensure survival and healthy reproduction rates for the fish.
Kirk Environmental’s staff has been conducting fish surveys on small and large streams, ponds, and lakes since the early 1990’s. Small streams typically require utilization of backpack electrofishing units. Larger streams usually require a tow-barge or pram set-up complete with a generator to supply power and a unit to control the voltage output and wave-length. For the larger and deeper waters such as large ponds, lakes, or rivers, Kirk Environmental’s full-size electrofishing boat and work-up boat can be effective to depths of approximately 12 feet.