Photo by Linda HeronPhoto Credit

Category Archives: Fish/Eel Mitigation & Recovery

Learn about the extraordinary American Eel!

It’s a lizard, It’s a snake, It’s one of the most unique fishes in the world: the¬†American Eel!

Known for their elongated bodies and short fins, these fish which were once very common in North American waterbodies, are now endangered. This is largely due to the presence of hydroelectric dams, which block their natural migration routes, making them unable to reach their breeding grounds in the ocean.

Learn more about their impressive migrations, extraordinary life cycle, and current conservation efforts through this short video.

Town of Erin Wastewater Treatment Plant – Concerns over Brook Trout and Fish Habitat on the West Credit River

Finally, the West Credit River is a headwaters tributary of the Credit River and is considered the crown jewel of coldwater brook trout fisheries in Ontario. This fishery significantly adds to the economic and social fabric of the province, with Ontario fisheries contributing a total of approximately $2.5 billion annually to the provincial economy.  MNRF’s own documents predict that climate change will reduce the number of watersheds in Ontario with brook trout by 50% by 2050.

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EBR-013-1476 – Draft Government Response Statement for the Recovery of the American Eel

The American Eel Needs Your Help!  You have an opportunity to support the recovery of a species that has declined by 99% of its original population, has been completely extirpated from extensive areas of its native Ontario range, and is in steep decline where it still exists.  The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has prepared a Draft Government Response Station for the Recovery of the American Eel in Ontario, and you have until January 11th to sign the Petition below.  More information can be found here.  To add your own comments just click on the letter and type.  Thank you for your help! Continue reading

The Demise of American Eel….


The Demise of American Eel in the Upper St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, Ottawa River and Associated Watersheds: Implications of Regional Cumulative Effects in Ontario

Abstract.‚ÄĒAmerican Eel mortality has increased substantially over the¬†past century due largely to significant cumulative effects of fishing¬†and fish passage through hydro-electric turbines across their range. ¬†Nowhere has this been more pronounced than in waters of the St.¬†Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, Ottawa River and associated watersheds.¬†We illustrate this by examining the cumulative effects of hydroelectric¬†facilities on eels migrating downstream through the Mississippi¬†River and Ottawa River, and outline further impacts eels encounter en¬†route to spawn in the Sargasso Sea. The probability of a mature female¬†eel surviving its emigration through the Mississippi and Ottawa River to¬†the upper St. Lawrence River is estimated to be as low as 2.8% due to¬†turbine mortalities alone (2.8‚Äď40%). Mortality risk increases as the eel¬†attempts to run the gauntlet of fisheries in the lower St. Lawrence River¬†and the probability of out-migration survival is estimated to be as low¬†as 1.4%. Some mortalities could be mitigated through improved application¬†of existing laws, development of policy requiring consideration¬†of cumulative effects and¬†improved integration among program areas¬†responsible for sustainable management of fisheries, biodiversity,¬†dams and hydro-electric facilities. We recommend changes to policy,¬†procedures and internal organizational structures provided with clear¬†directions, and call for increased accommodation of Aboriginal perspectives.

MacGregor, R., T. Haxton, L. Greig, J. M. Casselman, J. M. Dettmers, W. A. Allen, D. G. Oliver, and L. McDermott. 2015. The demise of American Eel in the upper St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, Ottawa River and associated watersheds: implications of regional cumulative effects in Ontario. Pages 149‚Äď188 in N. Fisher, P. LeBlanc, C. A. Rose, and B. Sadler, editors. Managing the impacts of human activities on fish habitat: the governance, practices, and science. American Fisheries Society, Symposium 78, Bethesda, Maryland.

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Fish passage considerations for developing small hydroelectric sites and improving existing water control structures in Ontario

Unfortunately fish passage is rarely even considered for hydroelectric facilities in Ontario; however, this report may indicate the beginnings of positive change.

Fish passage has long been recognized as an important consideration in managing Canada’s fisheries resources. A decision-making framework developed in British Columbia provides one of the most comprehensive ways to approach fish passage resolution at a proposed project. This process outlines assessments of environmental, financial-technical, and social benefits or the ‚ÄúBC triple bottom line‚ÄĚ, in determining the need for fish passage. In addition to such a framework, it is important to note that the decision making process frequently relies not only on enabling legislation and policy, but on technical issues, the interpretation of the latest research results, as well as in-depth expertise on fish passage. Often, in-depth knowledge can make a difference, particularly when data on fish and fish behaviour are lacking.

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American Eel Recovery Strategy – EBR Posting 012-0405 – ORA Submission

American Eel


“American Eels were once abundant in the upper St. Lawrence River, Ottawa River, Lake Ontario, and their tributaries, and in fact were so plentiful that they were an invaluable source of sustenance to First Nation communities and early European settlers, and more recently supported thriving commercial and sports fisheries.¬† This all changed with the advent of a multitude of hydroelectric dams constructed within the historic range of the species.

Key to the American Eel’s survival and recovery is its ability to migrate to its spawning area in the Sargasso Sea, near Bermuda.¬† This is a perilous journey that only a very small percentage ever complete due to the cumulative effects of the numerous hydroelectric facilities that have killed, maimed, and cut off migration to their spawning area.¬† Consequently their once thriving populations have been reduced to a mere one percent of their original numbers.” Continue reading

Effects of Dams & Waterpower on River Ecosystems, Fish & Fisheries: Not Green for Fish, by Dr. John M. Casselman, Adjunct Professor, Dept. of Biology, Queen’s University – Presentation to ORA at Annual General Meeting

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Surging Sturgeon Success Story – by Laurent Robichaud, Friends of Grassy River

Below is a presentation made to the Ontario Rivers Alliance at their Annual General Meeting on 23 November 2013.  Check out the notes below as well.

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This document is a collection of events and recent developments related to the re-introduction of Lake Sturgeon in the Upper Reach of the Mattagami River near Timmins Ontario.

It was back in 2002 that the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources approached Club Navigateur La Ronde and the Timmins Fur Council to be partners on a project to re-establish lake sturgeon population in the upper reach of the Mattagami River near Timmins Ontario. In the Lands and Forest archives of the early 1900s were records of sturgeon spawning activity observed at Wawaitin Falls by a conservation officer of those early years of the Porcupine mining camp. Log drives, dam construction and subsequent operation combined with fisheries led to population drops to unsustainable levels. Continue reading