Closed Gates Called Risk To Fish - The Chronicle Herald
Posted 15 May 2013 - 12:39 PM
May 12, 2013 - 5:06pm By GORDON DELANEY Valley Bureau
Avon River fisherman says regular opening would help
Gaspereau and other fish are sometimes dying in the mud because they can’t get through the iron sluice gates at the Windsor causeway.
WINDSOR — The sluice gates in the Windsor causeway across the Avon River need to be opened more regularly to prevent fish kills, says a local fisherman.
Darren Porter fishes the river five days a week, mostly for gaspereau, which he says are dying regularly because they can’t get up river to spawn.
Porter said Thursday that he warned the Department of Agriculture more than a week ago that the fish are now running. Gaspereau spawn in the river twice a year, around the first quarter and last quarter moons.
But there are also sea trout, American eel, sturgeon and even Atlantic salmon in the river.
The sluice gates act as an aboiteau to control flooding and water levels, say government officials. They are shut when the tide comes in, but opened at low tide to let water flow into the river from the lake on the other side of the causeway.
The structure is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture Department, which operates it according to a protocol developed with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, which is responsible for fish habitat.
Officials say the gates are opened regularly, almost every day, to release water out of the headpond and allow fish passage. And they say the two departments meet regularly to examine the protocol for opening the gates and ensuring safe fish habitat.
Karen Wong-Petrie, western regional manager of the extension and outreach division of the Department of Agriculture, said Friday that her department received a complaint from Porter on Monday and is looking into it.
“We have not observed any dead fish,” she said. “Any fish kill we would take very seriously.”
Wong-Petrie said the fisheries department has been contacted about the most recent complaint. “But at that time they had no recommendations to change our regular operation practices.”
She said the gates provide adequate fish passage “within the structural limitations that we have there.”
The gates can only be opened on the out-going tide because they can’t allow salt water to come into the lake on the other side, which is used for agricultural purposes. She added that if the gates were opened too frequently, the velocity of the water would be too high for the fish to pass through.
Fisheries spokesman Luke Gaulton said Friday the department is looking into complaints of fishery-related issues at the causeway and a meeting is being set up with provincial officials.
Porter has been complaining about the lack of a fish passage at the sluice gates for years. And he’s not alone.
Friends of the Avon River, an environmental group that promotes protection of the river, called on the federal government two years ago to undertake a comprehensive environmental impact assessment of the entire watershed area.
The Avon Peninsula Watershed Preservation Society has also called for an environmental assessment to examine fish habitat, especially with regard to salmon and eel.
Porter makes his living fishing the Avon River. He said nothing has changed and fish are still dying because they have no passage and get stuck in the mud when the gates are closed and the water in the river is low.
“Right now we have no fish ladders, we have no passage at all, unless they open those iron gates. If the gates are closed, nothing can get through,” he said. “There has to be a solution; there needs to be a permanent fish passage.”
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By GORDON DELANEY Valley Bureau
Posted 15 May 2013 - 01:28 PM
A fish passage (ladder or other) should have been constructed originally. Years pass...people complain...fish die. DFO and other government departments...do nothing.
Very sad and disgusting situation.
IBVFD, thanks for posting the story.
"In these sad and ominous days of mad fortune chasing, every patriotic, thoughtful citizen, whether he fishes or not, should lament that we have not among our countrymen more fishermen." Grover Cleveland
Posted 15 May 2013 - 01:45 PM
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