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Category Archives: Aquatic Life

Fishery Rehabilitation on the French River

Spawning Bed Cleaning

2013 FWIN Netting Report
by Jim Rook, French River Stewardship Council:

During the late 1980’s it became apparent that the French River walleye fishery was in decline.  It was noted by recreational anglers as well as the local tourist lodges whose economic viability was threatened by the walleye decline.

In response to the declining fishery a French River Fishery Cooperative was created led by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) as well as interested tourist operators, and members of our local French River community.

Scientific studies based upon the Fall Walleye Index Netting Protocol (FWIN) were initiated.  The FWIN program is designed to measure the relative abundance, size and age distribution, mortality, growth rates and conditions of a walleye population. Continue reading

Ontario’s Fisheries: Significant Contributors to the Ontario Economy

Ontario’s fisheries contribute substantially to Ontario’s economy, with recreational and commercial fishing valued at more than $2.5 billion annually:

  • 41,000 person years of employment.
  • More than 1.2 million residents and non-resident anglers, contributing $2.2 billion annually to the Ontario economy.
  • A driving force for Ontario’s tourism industry and a key economic component in many communities, particularly in Northern Ontario, with 1600 licensed tourist operators generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues annually.
  • More than 500 active commercial fishing licences, contributing more than $230 million dollars to the Ontario economy.
  • 1200 commercial bait fishing licences are issued annually, with $17 million in direct sales of live bait.

Continue reading

Quebec and Ontario work together to save the American eel

By Kalina Laframboise, THE GAZETTE July 16, 2014

HAWKESBURY, Ont – A joint operation between the Ontario and Quebec provincial governments, Hydro-Québec, the Canadian Wildlife Federation and the Algonquins of Ontario saw 400 juvenile American eels released into the Ottawa River for the first time on Wednesday afternoon in an effort to save the species in Ontario.

The American eels were provided from a Hydro-Québec eel ladder at the dam in Beauharnois and transported to Voyageur Provincial Park in East Hawkesbury in the morning. They were released in the middle of the Ottawa River just above the Carillon dam that spans from Carillon to Pointe-Fortune.

Read entire article and view video here.

Unionid mussels – our subtly beautiful largest invertebrate animals!

Become a Local Expert

Because of their constant filtering, Unionids are the heavy-duty in-stream providers of “water quality,” and unlike fish, they can’t get out of the way and then quickly swim back to recolonize a site. Stream projects should avoid disturbing the streambed where they’re abundant, since the mussels mature slowly, and mature individuals can keep providing improved water quality for several decades. Water level fluctuations in impoundments can make
vast areas of the bottom behind dams uninhabitable.

To become the local unionid expert, search shores & bottoms of streams, and shores & shallows of lakes, concentrating on clear-water habitats and on riffles, and especially on streams right below lake outlets, where phytoplanktonic food from the still water flows like a perpetual buffet. Some species are wedged into the mucky banks of streams. Muskrats accumulate shell piles beside stumps and rocks on the bank, which you’ll find easily once you begin to think like a Muskrat. Flood waters concentrate shells at the foot of bars, or in eddies. It’s important to examine lots of animals and collect lots of shells, because many species are superficially hard to tell apart and many are rare. Since you can collect dead shells without harming the populations, it’s possible to gather material documentation of the occurrence of species, and their variation. Continue reading

A Review of Lake Sturgeon Habitat Requirements and Strategies to Protect and Enhance Sturgeon Habitat

Kerr, S. J., M. J. Davison and E. Funnell. 2010. A review of lake sturgeon habitat requirements and strategies to protect and enhance sturgeon habitat. Fisheries Policy Section, Biodiversity Branch. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.  Peterborough, Ontario. 58 p. + appendices.

Pages 4 to 8:

The decline in lake sturgeon across much of North America has been attributed initially to unregulated fisheries and, more recently, to habitat alteration and destruction notably by pollution, dredging and channelization, and the construction of dams and hydroelectric facilities. Dredging and channelization can alter lake sturgeon spawning grounds. Sturgeon have been impacted by many forms of pollution which can disrupt olfactory feeding behaviour. Dams and hydroelectric stations can have a negative impact on lake sturgeon by fragmenting their habitat, impeding migrations to spawning grounds and, depending on the type of operation, having a negative impact on egg survival and recruitment. Downstream migrants may also be impinged or entrained at hydroelectric plants.

Attempts to resolve some of these habitat impacts have included construction of fish passes at dams, establishing base flows or “run-or-river” regimes at hydroelectric facilities, creation or enhancement of spawning areas, use of downstream guidance and diversion structures, and improvements to water quality. There has been some success with constructing artificial spawning grounds for lake sturgeon. Sturgeon have also been shown to display a positive response to improvements in water quality and “run-of-river” hydrologic regimes at dams and power stations. The ability to design a fish pass suitable for fish with the body size/shape and swimming capabilities of lake sturgeon has proven difficult, however, and further research is required in this area. Many sturgeon populations are also impacted by “peaking” operations at hydroelectric facilities and the issue of facilitating downstream passage over artificial barriers also needs to be resolved. Continue reading

Draft – American Eel (Anguilla rostrata) in Ontario Ontario Recovery Strategy Series

Author:  MacGregor, R., J. Casselman, L. Greig, W. A. Allen, L. McDermott, and T. Haxton.   2010. DRAFT Recovery Strategy for the American Eel (Anguilla rostrata) in Ontario.  Ontario Recovery Strategy Series. Prepared for Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Peterborough, Ontario. vii+ 78 pp.

Pages 23 to 24:

Barriers to Migration

Dams can severely impede upstream dispersal of juvenile eels in freshwater if no passage way is provided (Haro et al. 2000). It has been estimated that 85 percent of freshwater habitat for migratory fish in the United States has been lost due to barriers (Lary et al. 1998). In a 1998 study, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that eels may have been eliminated from 81 percent of their historic habitat between Connecticut and Maine due to the construction of a large number of dams (ASMFC 2000). Barriers reduced eel densities by at least a factor of 10 on the Hudson River, and eel condition was significantly poorer above barriers (Machut et al. 2007). The situation appears similar in Ontario where at least 953 dams exist within the eel’s historic range (Figure 7). Hydroelectric dams generally pose the most significant barrier to upstream migration due their height. However, with the exception of one eel ladder at the Moses-Saunders facility on the St. Lawrence River, as of 2008 no provisions for upstream fish passage for any species have been made at any of the approximately 200 hydroelectric stations in Ontario.  Negotiations with a few facilities are now underway to correct this situation for upstream eel passage.

Turbines at Hydroelectric Facilities

Hydroelectric facilities in Ontario pose significant challenges to eels (Larinier and Dartiguelongue 1989; Mitchell and Boubée 1992; Desroches 1995; Normandeau Associates Inc. and Skalski 1998; Haro et al. 2000; Dönni et al. 2001, in ICES 2003; McCleave 2001; Allen 2008 b, c, d), as they impart serious individual and cumulative mortalities at the watershed level to downstream migrants en route to spawn (McCleave 2001; MacGregor et al. 2009). There are 87 hydroelectric facilities within the historic range of eels in Ontario, and 30 within the post-2000 range (Figure 8). As of 2009, many of these facilities continue to cause annual eel mortalities (Community Stewardship Council of Lanark County 2010; A. Bendig, pers. comm. 2009; K. Punt, pers. comm. 2009). With the exception of recent trap and transport efforts at Moses-Saunders, mortalities due to turbines at all hydroelectric facilities in Ontario continue unmitigated on most watersheds. Continue reading

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