Learn more about how dams affect fish populations through this short video! 🐟
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.
Posted 8 March 2014
By: Christine Luckasavitch, Whitney and Area Algonquins
The American eel (Anguilla rostrata) is a remarkable fish that was once extremely abundant throughout tributaries to Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, including the Ottawa River Watershed. Within the Ottawa River watershed, this species has faced a dramatic 99% decline in population since the 1980’s. The American eel has been apparently extirpated from many parts of its Ontario range and is in serious decline where it still exists. It is now listed as endangered under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, 2007.
The American eel is known to Algonquins as Kichisippi Pimisi, which means “big river eel”. Algonquin Traditional Knowledge demonstrates that Kichisippi Pimisi is considered sacred to the Algonquin people as it has been an essential part of our traditional culture since time immemorial.
For Algonquins, Kichisippi Pimisi was a provider of nourishment, medicine and spirituality. As Pimisi were once extremely plentiful through Algonquin Traditional Territory, it was one of the most important and dependable sources of sustenance, particularly during long journeys and harsh winters. Pimisi were once so plentiful in our waters that over a thousand eels could be caught in an evening – enough to provide a great feast for an entire village. Pimisi was also highly valued as a trade item with voyageurs or new settlers to the Ottawa River basin.
The skin of Kichisippi Pimisi has incredible healing properties. It was used as a cast or brace for broken bones or sprains and to rid the body of infections once it dried. ATK also suggests that Pimisi skin has the ability to heal sore throats when applied to one’s neck.
Kichisippi Pimisi is a spiritual animal to Algonquins as it is a prayer carrier, travelling great distances through the waters. Kichisippi Pimisi is revered as a mystical creature as it would “disappear” into the earth each winter, “mud-balling” into the lake or river bed and hibernate over the winter months.
As many rivers throughout Algonquin Traditional Territory are no longer free-flowing, the presence of Kichisippi Pimisi has faced such a dramatic decline due to man-made barriers on our waterways. Our younger generations no longer hold a connection with this sacred animal. It is vital that Kichisippi Pimisi be restored to its historical range throughout the Ottawa River Basin, including the South Nation, Mississippi, Bonnechere, Petawawa, Mattawa and Madawaska Rivers and other tributaries in order to re-establish the ancient connection between Algonquins and Kichisippi Pimisi.
The cumulative effects of eel mortality during outward migration are truly devastating. Hydroelectric facilities, reduced access to habitat imposed by man-made barriers throughout waterways, commercial harvesting in jurisdictions other than Ontario, contaminants and habitat destruction, alteration and disruption are amongst the most significant threats to the survival and recovery of Kichisippi Pimisi in Ontario.
March 1, 2013
The Honourable Kathleen Wynne
Premier of Ontario
Dear Premier Wynne,
We, the undersigned, are writing to express our deep concern about proposed exemptions to Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA) and to request that your government not proceed with these changes. The proposed exemptions would severely weaken the ESA’s current standard of protection and undermine the government’s ability to monitor and control activities that harm threatened and endangered species and their habitats.
The Liberal government passed the ESA in 2007 with overwhelming public support. Celebrated nationally and internationally by scientists and the environmental community as a gold standard in species at risk legislation, it greatly enhanced the government’s credibility as a green leader. The ESA is intended to facilitate species recovery through mandatory protection for threatened and endangered species and their habitats. At the same time, however, it provides flexibility for economic development by allowing for permits that authorize otherwise prohibited activities, contingent upon the achievement of an overall benefit for the species.
February 25th , 2013
Senior Permits & Agreements Specialist
Ministry of Natural Resources
Species at Risk Branch
Permits and Agreements Section
300 Water Street , Floor 2
Peterborough Ontario K9J8M5
Phone: (416) 326-1672
Fax: (705) 755-5483
Dear Ms Adams:
Re: EBR-011-7696 Proposed Approaches to the Implementation of the Endangered Species Act
The Nottawasaga Steelheaders is a volunteer group of anglers, conservationists and concerned residents who have been working in concert with The Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority, Ministry of Natural Resources and various communities to improve, rehabilitate and preserve the integrity of the Nottawasaga River watershed over the past twenty years years. Over this time we have committed tens of thousands of man-hours and hundreds of thousands of dollar in many beneficial programs. These have included the removable of numerous barriers to fish migration, undertaken countless garbage pick-ups, tree plantings, stream bank stabilizations, cold water delivery projects, spawning ground improvements and commitments to ensure the survival of wild species in this watershed such wild steelhead. Our organization was the first of its kind to undertake a comprehensive study to make uncover the genetic diversity of migratory rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Eighteen (18) distinct strains were found, each with its own set of co-adaptive gene complexes established over a hundred years. Recent studies including those at the University of Western Ontario have determined that that 35-40% of migratory Chinook salmon are of Nottawasaga River origin! This speaks highly of complex and delicate interdependent biodiversity which has taken hundreds if not thousands of years to establish in this watershed. This biodiversity and its interdependence in this watershed and across Ontario is something we know little about and should not be putting at risk with hasty decisions and without the input of Ontarians. It is OUR province with OUR resources and WE are responsible…not a few. Continue reading
“While there are some good recommendations in these proposed amendments to the Endangered Species Act (ESA), many are worded in language that is far too vague and open-ended, and others are simply unacceptable. ORA is very concerned that this will significantly weaken the hard-fought protection already afforded to our species at risk and their habitats, and is inconsistent with the ESA. Further, many of the proposed approaches appear to be in violation of the EBR in that there is no provision for public and First Nation consultation or transparency.
MNR’s Mission and Promise to Ontarians:
MNR’s Statement of Environmental Values (SEV) and strategic direction ensure sustainable development, protect and restore biodiversity, and must be the guiding principles in all decisions with regard to streamlining, modernization and economic development. The values set out in the SEV must be adhered to in the contemplation of any existing or planned activities where endangered species or habitat protection is in question. The SEV clearly states, “The Ministry’s mission is to manage Ontario’s natural resources in an ecologically sustainable way to ensure that they are available for the enjoyment and use of future generations. The Ministry is committed to the conservation of biodiversity and the use of natural resources in a sustainable manner.”
Streamlining and modernization of the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) is a good idea, but only if environmental, ecological, and species at risk protection is not threatened or diminished. All the streamlining, modernization and framework EBR postings preceding this one promised to uphold environmental and ecological values; however, this posting demonstrates that this promise is not being kept. This proposal clearly reflects a development at all costs approach taken by this administration.” Continue reading
FRENCH RIVER DELTA ASSOCIATION
857 Hartley Bay Road
RR 2 Site 10 Comp 4
Alban, Ontario P0M 1A0
January 18, 2013
Senior Permits & Agreements Specialist
Ministry of Natural Resources, Policy Division
Species at Risk Branch
Permits and Agreements Section
300 Water Street, Floor 2
Dear Ms. Adams:
Re: EBR Registry Number: 011-7696, Proposed approaches to the implementation of the Endangered Species Act which could include regulatory amendments to authorize activities to occur subject to conditions set out in regulation consistent with MNR’s Modernization of Approvals
The proposed regulatory changes contained in EBR 011-7696 are vague and will not meet MNR’s responsibility to endangered species and their habitat maintenance and protection.
While the ambiguity of this MNR and provincial cabinet’s proposal will serve MNR’s and cabinet’s partners in the mining, energy, forestry, and aggregate industries, it will not meet the primary purpose of the Endangered Species Act which is to protect endangered and threatened species and their habitats required for survival.
It is intriguing to note that the spring 2012 budget proposed amendments to the Endangered Species Act. These proposed exemptions – circumvention of permitting requirements, and removal of deadlines for recovery planning – faced serious public opposition and the budget amendments to the ESA were dropped. To now reposition the budget amendments as regulatory changes, which require only cabinet approval, is irresponsible, misleading and shows the continuing disrespect that cabinet and the MNR have towards the public, and as importantly, endangered species and their habitats. Continue reading