SPAWN Summer Students Gather Data
This year we were successful in hiring seven post secondary students to assist in gathering assessment data. Five were employed through the federal Summer Career Placement Program (SCP) and two through The Student Works and Services Program (SWASP).
SPAWN wanted to ensure that adequate data was collected at various fishways and counting fences in Western Newfoundland. With the cutbacks at DFO they needed extra hands to do a more complete job.
Our SCP students worked at the Torrent River Fishway, Pinchgut Brook counting fence, the Lower Humber traps, Barachois Brook and Southwest Brook in Bay St. George, while SWASP students gathered catch and release information from sea run trout and salmo at Hughes Brook. In addition, later in the season, some were involved in gathering electro fishing data.
All the information was given to DFO Science branch in Corner Brook. The results will be compiled over the next couple months.
The study at Barachois was short as the students spent most of their time after the first week at Southwest Brook. We feel however that the seeding of the reconstructed river bank, washed away in the spring flood, and planting of jack pines along the bank will have long term benefits.
Working together was the key – we couldn’t have done it without help from Human Resources Development, Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, who supplied the tree planters or “portapogies”, DFO – who helped us with electrofishing when Barachois was re-aligned, the universities and College of the North Atlantic – for the students, and for the SPAWN volunteers. I hope we’ve left no-one out!
Thanks to one and all.
It was good news for the Humber River Allies (HRA) when Mr. Joseph Kruger, owner of Deer Lake Power and Corner Brook Pulp and Paper announced recently the Silver Lake hydro project is on hold. SPAWN is a member of HRA, a group strongly opposing the emaciation of a large sector of the environment on the Upper Humber River. The Humber is a major Atlantic Salmon river and the Upper Humber has far more potential for the tourism industry if left undammed.
Surveys of the potential spawning habitat have identified it can support 38,000 adult salmon. With stocks already in jeopardy, SPAWN feels the habitat is too valuable to lose. The SPAWN Board says preservation of the stock must be a priority.
“We have applied on two occasions to have the Upper Humber opened to migrating salmon – both times we were refused when Parks Canada stated the area holds a unique population of Pygmy char. If this could stop enhancement of the system then what would a hydro development do” – stated the Board.
HRA says the hydro development would not only devestate the landscape, but it would create major problems for salmon, especially below the tailrace. Higher water temperatures would cause eco-system disruption by the premature hatching of eggs and normal bio-mass life-cycles.
Keith Piercey, SPAWN Vice President says “All this would happen while downstream winter conditions were normal – can you imagine the effect this would have on the migration pattern of juvenile fish? Then there is the silting, flooding, forest loss, and numerous other things identified.”
The environmental impact study ordered by the Government is not an arm’s length assessment – “How can you have an impartial report when the proponent (Deer Lake Power) hires its own consultants to prepare it.”
The company says the project will provide jobs. However it is obvious the jobs are short term, at best, and there is far more employment potential through tourism. For now, the company says it is putting the project on hold while it redirects its money into other projects, such as co-generation of electricity (re-cycling steam to run a turbine) and Mill improvements.
HRA and SPAWN thank all who supported our campaign through donations and letters. We will continue to monitor the situation.
A River Saved!
On June 24 and June 25, 1998, SPAWN reopened the mouth of Bear Cove Brook. The stream was blocked when a severe storm deposited thousands of tons of rocks into the mouth of the stream creating an obstruction of nearly 200 metres in length and in excess of 10 feet deep in places.
Bear Cove Brook is a small stream located approximately 16 kilometres east of Port- Aux-Basques, near the community of Cape Ray. The brook flows out of a water body known as Big Pond which is a popular location for trout fishing and Salmon angling. It is estimated that the stream has a run of 600-800 salmon annually in addition to a healthy trout population.
SPAWN relayed the information to DFO in the Spring hoping they would correct the problem but it was evident that the issue was tied up in the bureaucracy of the system. Quick action was required because the kelts (slinks) and smolt could not migrate to the sea and migrating salmon could not enter. SPAWN was given permission from DFO and the Provincial Department of Environment to undertake the work immediately. Manuel’s construction of Port-Aux-Basques was contracted for heavy equipment services, and the stream channel was rebuilt.
During the two days of construction at the site, kelts and smolt were witnessed upstream of the obstruction and minutes after the stream channel had been opened, schools of smolt were observed migrating to sea. We are informed that the salmon run for Bear Cove Brook also entered later.
The stream may be periodically infilled from winter storms. SPAWN encourages citizens, local anglers, groups, etc. to monitor the stream and to develop partnerships for an annual habitat stream maintenance program.
SPAWN would like to thank the many local people who took an interest and provided us with valuable information about the site. In addition we would like to extend thanks to Mr. Al Pitcher, regional habitat coordinator for DFO, who supervised the project in a very professional manner.