Ducks Unlimited Canada

Ducks Unlimited Canada

September 26, 2013 15:39 ET

DUC Partners With DFO and University Students to Improve Fish Habitat

AMHERST, NOVA SCOTIA--(Marketwired - Sept. 26, 2013) - Two Acadia University masters students have spent their summer mucking through mud and setting up fish weirs in six marshes across New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

They've been fishing for Alewife (a species of Gaspereau) and Brook Trout - but not for fun or for lunch. Sam Andrews and Matt Gregoire have partnered with Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC), as part of the organization's Atlantic Fishway Initiative, to find out how well fish are passing through DUC fish-ladders. DUC will use the findings to build better ladders, including nature-like fishways, which accommodate a wider variety of fish and will help conserve our recreational fisheries.

"The current trend worldwide in fishway design is to move away from technical concrete-walled fish-ladders to more natural fishways," says DUC head of major projects, Geoff Harding. "The design philosophy of nature-like fishways is ecologically based, aimed at mimicking the characteristics of a natural river channel, and enabling more native fish species to successfully navigate through them."

So how exactly do they track the fish? Andrews and Gregoire have embedded tags under the skin of 400 fish in each of four waterways in the Tantramar Marshes area, and 50 on the Habitant River in the Annapolis Valley. Research will soon be under way in the Little River Marsh adjacent to the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John as well. The pit tags emit electronic signals, which are received by antennas mounted in the fish-ladders, allowing the students to track the tagged fishes' movements in and out of the structures. Once a new ladder is built at each marsh, the students will continue to tag and record fish passage for at least two years.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced in September that it will provide $150,000 in funding this year through its new Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program for portions of the initiative. This includes research done at the Front Lake fish-ladder on the La Coupe River in the Tintamarre National Wildlife Area near Aulac, N.B. Irving Oil Ltd. has also donated $100,000 to DUC's Atlantic Fishway Initiative.

DUC has 160 fish-ladders across Atlantic Canada as part of its wetland conservation efforts, and is looking forward to partnering with DFO and Irving Oil to continue to improve fish passage across the region.

Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) is the leader in wetland conservation. A registered charity, DUC partners with government, industry, non-profit organizations and landowners to conserve wetlands that are critical to waterfowl, wildlife and the environment. Learn more at

Contact Information

  • Ducks Unlimited Canada
    Chelsea Murray
    Communications coordinator, Atlantic Canada
    Office: 902.667-8726 ext. 227, cell: 506.232.2918