At the end of every navigation season, the water level in the Canal is lowered so our staff can carry out essential maintenance to keep the locks in good working order. The water is gradually lowered using valves through which the fish in the Canal find their way toward the nearest body of water. However, even though most of the fish get out of the Canal, sometimes several of them get stuck in pockets of stagnant water. When work needs to be done in these areas, human intervention is required to allow them to return to the river. This is what happened in Chambly!
Complete drying and rehabilitation of locksThe work completed in fall 2017 on locks 6 and 7 of the Chambly Canal required the chamber, the enclosure of the locks, to be completely dried. Before lowering the water level, Parks Canada made sure that the fish trapped in pools were collected, identified and relocated to the Chambly basin, where the conditions were favourable for their survival and free movement, while reducing the stress and harm to them.
Fish recrue at Chambly Canal
How do we move the fish?Parks Canada approached COVABAR, the Comité de concertation et de valorisation du bassin de la rivière Richelieu, to rescue the fish. This teamwork allowed for the effective tracking of the species that were picked up and relocated.
A team from COVABAR descended into the locks and picked up the fish using a platform and nets. The fish that were collected and identified were placed in containers, which were then removed from the locks with a boom truck.
Fish of all sizes were identified, from 5 cm-long minnows to 30 cm-long black bass. In all 2,652 fish from 21 different species were identified and relocated. Among these species were yellow perch, black crappie, brown bullhead and German carp.
This initiative is part of the environmental mitigation measures that Parks Canada is putting in place when working.