Supporting Coastal Development While Protecting Fish Populations
Our inability to predict the environmental impact of coastal development activities—such as tidal power extraction, commercial and recreational fishing, and the construction of “fishways” (structures that make it easier for fish to follow natural migration patterns)—means we can’t fully understand their potential long-term biological consequences for migratory fish. These activities could lead to the loss of economically valuable fish species as well as irreversible changes to ecosystems. The lack of credible scientific data on the potential impacts also hampers our ability to decide whether to allow development that could have significant economic benefits for Canadians.
As Canada Research Chair in Ecology of Coastal Environments, Dr. Michael Stokesbury is tackling this problem by studying changes in fish behaviour and survival as they relate to coastal development activities. By better understanding the environmental impacts of these activities, he hopes we will be able to develop and test strategies to reduce their negative impacts on fish populations.
Stokesbury and his research team are collaborating with government, industry, academic researchers, and other stakeholders to examine the effects of hydropower installations, recreational and commercial fisheries, and fishways on the survival and behaviour of valuable aquatic resources. Using electronic tagging technologies to study fish movement, migration, and behaviour, they hope to determine the impact these activities have on fish populations.
Ultimately, Stokesbury’s goal is to develop strategies that allow for the development of economic activity along Canada’s coasts with little or no corresponding, negative impact on fish populations’ behaviour or survival.