THE FISHWAY AT 20
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.