WINDSOR, NS - A local fisherman who discovered inner Bay of Fundy (iBoF) salmon in Lake Pisiquid says the find should take the politics out of the decision-making process for fish passage in Windsor.
“The significance of finding an iBoF salmon inside the causeway structure is immense, it verifies that habitat is still being used/needed by this species, it’s now unarguable that iBoF salmon are using this system, and that takes a lot of the politics out of the decision-making process,” said Darren Porter.
“It shows the need for (a proper fish passage), and that fish will make it so without a doubt we will have proper fish passage in Windsor. What that shall be, I have no idea, but that fish changes everything.”
Porter, along with study partners from Acadia, were on the lake conducting a spatial and temporal habitat and species assessment of the Avon River July 24 as part of the Windsor causeway study. That’s when they accidently caught the salmon in one of their nets.
Unable to get a scale from the salmon due to risk of causing harm to the fish, which has been considered an endangered species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) since 2003, Porter said he submitted pictures of the fish to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), who confirmed it was, in fact, an iBoF salmon.
“Everything is supposed to be evidence-based decisions, but that’s not how it is - a lot of the time it’s decision-based evidence manufacturing,” said Porter.
“So, with Windsor now, because of that fish, we have evidence based decisions, guaranteed in stone… now it’s all done on biology and good science, period.”
Porter added that it’s likely the first documented iBoF salmon above the causeway in over 40 years.
“Which is the reason for our joint comprehensive study, to determine what’s there. Just because something wasn’t documented does not mean it’s not there or still there using the entire system,” said Porter.
“We simply don’t know how many iBoF salmon are still accessing the lake, and we won’t know either. That single salmon changed the study and all methods that could capture any more are no longer being deployed, as this species is just too important to risk harming one.”
As for how and when the salmon got into the lake, Porter suggests the salmon would have likely moved above the causeway in May to early June when the lake levels were low, and the velocities were such that fish could pass upstream.
“In May, they had the lake drained, which allows free passage at low water. So, when they drain the lake down, it allows that fish just to swim through at low water when the tide comes, and then it closes not to let any salt water in. So, if I was to guess, May,” said Porter. “Because it would have a tractive flow going down downstream, saying ‘this is the river that you’re looking for’, because that’s very important.”