Take Action: Help save the endangered American Eel
Urgent and immediate action by the Ontario government is needed to reverse the ongoing decline of the endangered American Eel, whose numbers have collapsed by a staggering 99% in Ontario since the 1980s.
You have the opportunity to make your voice heard on this issue. We are in the final days of the province’s public consultation on its draft Government Response Statement – in essence, an action plan for recovering this endangered species – and we encourage you to submit your own comments by the January 11th deadline.
Our three major concerns with the plan are as follows:
1. Immediate actions need to be taken in both the St. Lawrence and Ottawa River systems to improve both downstream and upstream passage of American Eel.
Despite the urgency, the province’s action agenda stops short of proposing truly immediate actions – with even many of those labeled “immediate actions” slated to be “undertaken by 2020.” We believe this will be too little too late. Ontario’s remaining 1% of American Eel don’t have the luxury of waiting another 2-3 years for improvements to materialize. There have already been decades of delays in addressing this collapse.
2. Greater emphasis needs to be placed on collaborations with Quebec stakeholders, including Hydro-Quebec and the government of Quebec. There is also a lack of clarity on how the government will successfully engage and collaborate with the diverse set of stakeholders involved in this complex issue.
Every single eel that’s entering or leaving Ontario is migrating through the St. Lawrence River and Québec. Recovery can only work if Ontario has a specific plan for collaborating with stakeholders such as Hydro-Québec and the Québec government, through channels like the Ottawa River Watershed Council.
3. The government’s plan needs to focus on the Carillon dam, a pinch point in the eels’ migratory route.
The Carillon Dam is the first major barrier to American Eel on the Ottawa River and the fact that it is not even mentioned in the GRS is concerning. Eel passage infrastructure is already being installed at the Chaudière Falls retrofit upstream of Carillon Dam, but without similar actions being taken immediately at Carillon the impact of such efforts will be very limited. There is no reason why some of these passage improvements at critical locations like Carillon (particularly the assessment and planning) cannot be undertaken immediately.