Since moving to Yellowknife in 2008 with a PhD and a lifelong passion for fish, Vecsei has played a key role in northern fisheries science. An early breakthrough was his discovery that the ciscoes (Salmoniformes: Coregoninae) of Great Slave Lake were far more diverse than anyone in the scientific community realized. Another significant discovery was the presence of pygmy whitefish (Prosopium coulterii, the smallest of the coregonids) in an isolated lake, a long way from any previous known habitat, probably glacial relicts dating from the last ice age. Vecsei says community engagement has always been an important part of his work, particularly among First Nations. Aiding in his ground-breaking research, members of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation share knowledge held by elders who have been fishing in Yellowknife Bay for decades. That valuable information becomes part of the scientific record. He has also become a key member of the Tłįcho Aquatic Ecosystem Monitoring Program, an annual program that rotates among communities to share traditional knowledge and help pass down skills from elders to youth, all while undertaking crucial assessments of remote, traditionally used lakes. Vecsei is an accomplished fish illustrator and photographer with an impressive portfolio on Flickr.
WHAT HIS NOMINATORS SAID
- “Paul moved to Yellowknife for a job as a fisheries biologist.... It didn’t take him long to hook up with other fish enthusiasts in Yellowknife, and then to start expanding on our understanding of Great Slave Lake fauna. Paul’s love of fish is infectious, and Yellowknife is hooked.”
- “In his professional interactions with industry clients, including mine and hydroelectric operators, Paul’s enthusiasm and passion quickly rubs off, causing them to go the extra mile to protect fisheries.”
Explore Paul Vecsei’s extensive collection of photos and illustrations on Flickr.