Town of Grand Bank and DFO at odds over salmon responsibility

Paul Herridge
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Low water in leaking reservoir may prevent Atlantic salmon from migrating

Concern has been expressed that low water in the Grand Bank reservoir may cause problems for Atlantic salmon trying to migrate upstream this year.

Concern has been expressed that low water in the Grand Bank reservoir may hamper Atlantic salmon trying to migrate upstream this year. 

But the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the Town of Grand Bank disagree over who is responsible for helping the fish along on their annual journey up the brook.

According to minutes of a meeting to discuss the issue in Grand Bank June 25, DFO advised Mayor Rex Matthews and Deputy Mayor Clayton Welsh that, as owners of the reservoir, the town is obligated to assist the salmon.

Government officials said the department was willing to offer suggestions and advice to fix the problem but would not take any responsibility or provide any funding to the town for repairs.

Matthews insisted the salmon are DFO’s responsibility and said the town would not use its own funds.

The disagreement was brought up during last week’s council meeting.

According to the mayor, the problem stems from a leak in the reservoir.

Matthews said the town is working to resolve the issue but a permanent solution would take time.

He indicated as assessment of the dam has been completed at a cost of $30,000. The town must now seek out capital funding for the repairs, he said. 

“That’s probably going to take years to get that done,” he said during the meeting.

In the meantime, Matthews, who expressed concern about the fate of the fish, said town staff doesn’t have the knowledge to assist the salmon.

“It’s a pretty tedious exercise to begin with and (DFO has) the expertise in that field. We don’t have the expertise, so you think they would bring somebody in to do it.” Grand Bank Mayor Rex Matthews

“It’s a pretty tedious exercise to begin with and (DFO has) the expertise in that field. We don’t have the expertise, so you think they would bring somebody in to do it,” he said.

“We’re saying to DFO, that’s you’re responsibility, or you tell us how to do it, and provide some funding to help us to do it, and we’ll do our best for you.”

Matthews pointed out the reservoir was built in 1972 and staff was unable to find any documentation related to the current disagreement regarding responsibility for assuring salmon can traverse the fishway.

In its correspondence, DFO said that “relatively simple and inexpensive measures may exist to provide fish passage as required until repairs are made that restore normal water levels in the reservoir.”

Matthews acknowledged the town has sought legal advice on the matter and hopes a solution that is agreeable to both sides can be found.

pherridge@southerngazette.ca

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