THE FISHWAY AT 20

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL -

The Fishway is lo­cated across the Des­jardins Canal be­neath High­way 403. The struc­ture is de­signed to pre­vent carp from pass­ing through while other de­sir­able species are caught in bas­kets and — through hand sort­ing — are let into Cootes Par­adise.

A 20th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion planned for May 28 has been can­celled be­cause of the ex­ten­sive flood­ing. It will be resched­uled for late Au­gust.

The $2.3-mil­lion carp bar­rier and fishway ac­tu­ally opened in 1996. But it had leaks. De­sign­ers went back to the draw­ing board and re­opened it the fol­low­ing year, fi­nally achiev­ing their ob­jec­tives.

For decades, com­mon carp — orig­i­nally from Asia — had been iden­ti­fied is a ma­jor de­struc­tive force in Cootes Par­adise with es­ti­mates of up to 70,000 of them liv­ing in the marsh­land. The prob­lem with carp is that, in their con­stant search for food, they churn up the soil on the bot­tom, dis­cour­ag­ing the growth of plant life.

The RBG says the Fishway has led to dra­matic im­prove­ments at Cootes over the past two decades. — The carp pop­u­la­tion is less than 5 per cent of its for­mer num­bers. — Water clar­ity has vastly im­proved. — Num­bers of na­tive fish have in­creased by six fold. — Am­phib­ians have in­creased from three to five species and num­bers have in­creased eight fold. — More than 200,000 wet­lands plants (in­clud­ing 150,000 cat­tails cover­ing 3 hectares), have been planted, in­clud­ing many pre­vi­ously lost species.

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