The Petitcodiac receives Freshwater Critical Habitat designation for Atlantic Salmon
4 January 2015 – Historically, the Petitcodiac River was responsible for over 20% of the production of Inner Bay of Fundy (IBoF) Atlantic Salmon stocks. When the causeway was installed in 1968, a massive barrier to the species’ migration was created which ultimately led to the extirpation of the species from the Petitcodiac system. The loss of an entire watershed full of reproductive habitat was a major stressor to the salmon population currently listed as endangered. Sadly IBoF Atlantic salmon populations are on the brink of extinction, and are only surviving because of research-led stocking efforts (i.e. growing salmon in hatcheries, keeping a close eye on genetics, and releasing them into the wild). As the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) planned a recovery strategy for the species, the Petitcodiac River was left out of recovery documents due to the causeway obstruction. Rightfully so… there was no point in pouring resources into a blocked system.
This is all very grim, but the Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance is pleased to share some exciting and hopeful news with you- DFO revealed at the fall Recovery Team meeting that they are proposing to amend the Recovery Strategy for IBoF Atlantic Salmon to INCLUDE the Petitcodiac River watershed! This is thanks to a concerted effort by many groups to get the causeway gates opened in 2010, making the freshwater habitats of the watershed accessible again to migrating salmon. When complete, the Petitcodiac River will be considered as Freshwater Critical Habitat for salmon, and with that designation comes increased protection, enforcement, and attention from all levels of government.
It is an exciting time to be working and living near the Petitcodiac River. We raise a glass to all of our partners and supporters for this massive win!