Cape Breton Post

Parks Canada team claims ASF conservation award

Apr 5, 2019
SYDNEY, N.S. — The Atlantic Salmon Federation has awarded its top national honour to members of the Parks Canada team at Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
The 2019 T.B. (Happy) Fraser Award for Atlantic salmon conservation was awarded to the team for its response in cleaning up a devastating landslide on the Chéticamp River on May 27, 2018.

Parks officials were joined in the effort by members of the Chéticamp River Salmon Association

More than 4,000 tonnes of dirt and debris came crashing down a steep embankment inside the park and completely blocked an upstream fish passage in the river which, according to the federation, is home to one of the healthiest Atlantic salmon populations in the province.

At the time of the slide, salmon were already in the staging in the estuary, ready to begin their spawning journey into the river.

The Parks Canada team and members of the local salmon association had only days to ensure a cleanup and return normal flows or risk the possibility of losing an entire year-class of salmon.

"Within hours, the leaders at Parks Canada contacted the Chéticamp River Salmon Association and began designing a rapid response to the landslide. It did not take long for equipment to be moved on-site and the work to begin," said federation president Bill Taylor, in a press release.

He said Parks Canada assembled a team with expertise in hydrology and stream bank stabilization and after assessing the damage from the ground and air, set about digging in to the earthen dam created by the landslide.

"The people at the park went into overdrive and within 10 days the material was removed from the river allowing salmon to reach their spawning grounds," said Réné Aucoin, president of the Chéticamp River Salmon Association.

Among those involved in the cleanup was Archie Doucette, Parks Canada's environmental assessment and ecosystem restoration officer, who accepted the award on behalf of the park service during the annual meeting of the provincial salmon association this week in Halifax.

The award is the federation's top Canadian honour and has been given out annually since 1975.

The award’s name sake, T.B. Fraser, was a past president and general manager of the Atlantic Salmon Association, a predecessor of the Atlantic Salmon Federation.

He became one of the first people to sound the alarm about the Greenland commercial fishery which was taking more than 2,700 tonnes of wild Atlantic salmon in the early 1970s.

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