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Bay of Fundy and Southern Uplands Watersheds Priority Area

Map of the Bay of Fundy and Southern Uplands Watersheds Priority Area (NS, NB). See text that follows.
Bay of Fundy and Southern Uplands Watersheds Priority Area (NS, NB)

This priority area includes the watersheds in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick that drain into the Bay of Fundy, as well as the watersheds that make up the Nova Scotia Southern Uplands ecoregion. The rivers within these watersheds are home to a number of species at risk, including American Eel, Atlantic Salmon, Atlantic Sturgeon, Striped Bass and Atlantic Whitefish. Many of these species have significant ecological, cultural and recreational value, as well as importance to Indigenous communities. As impacts from human activities and climate change continue to threaten the local species at risk and their habitats, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ (DFO) Canada Nature Fund for Aquatic Species at Risk (CNFASAR) is supporting multiple projects aimed at preserving this priority area. These projects look to address a number of key threats, including the modification of natural systems (e.g., dams and other barriers to fish passage), poor water and habitat quality (e.g., instream habitat deterioration and impacts from land use practices) and the introduction of invasive species.

Conservation efforts currently underway

In an effort to maximize the conservation of species at risk and protect the unique aquatic ecosystems in the Saint John River watershed, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada established a project to manage priority threats to species at risk. This project identifies and implements recovery actions that provide aquatic species at risk with the greatest protection for a given cost. This initiative is helping to increase our understanding of local species at risk and improve the status of these populations. By taking a proactive approach to protecting freshwater habitats and preventing the decline of aquatic species, WWF-Canada’s recovery action prioritization project aims to conserve the local watershed for generations to come.

With multiple at-risk fish species in this priority area being anadromous in nature (meaning they live in a marine environment and migrate into a freshwater environment to spawn), it is important to address the threat of natural system modifications caused by barriers that prevent migration between the Bay of Fundy and nearby rivers. To manage this threat, the Passamaquoddy Recognition Group Inc. is conducting research and providing solutions that will allow for the passage of spawning migratory fish in the St. Croix River.

Another effort to address the threats of natural system modifications and habitat deterioration is being led by the Maliseet Nation Conservation Council. This project is restoring 32.5 km2 of quality freshwater habitat along the Wolastoq (Saint John River) used for spawning and rearing. In addition to helping species at risk, this project supports the restoration of habitat for fish species that are of significant social, cultural and economic value to the Maliseet First Nations.

A multi-year project undertaken by the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq, in partnership with multiple Mi’kmaw communities, is using a collaborative approach to identify threats and restore habitat for multiple species at risk found in Mi’kma’ki (mainland Nova Scotia). In addition to carrying out habitat assessments and restoration activities, the project is providing a better understanding of conservation concerns and is enabling local First Nations to participate in stewardship and recovery activities. Using a two-eyed approach, the project combines Mi’kmaw Ecological Knowledge with western science, demonstrating the importance of integrating these two perspectives in species conservation efforts.

Another four-year project led by the Nova Scotia Salmon Association takes an integrated approach to develop detailed watershed recovery and stewardship plans for multiple priority watersheds within Nova Scotia. These plans will support long term recovery efforts for Atlantic Salmon, American Eel, Atlantic Whitefish and Brook Floater.

With a number of CNFASAR projects being carried out by several organizations and their partners, DFO aims to support activities that will restore and conserve the Bay of Fundy and Southern Uplands aquatic ecosystems and the species at risk found within them. These projects contribute to achieving the CNFASAR objective of recovering species at risk by supporting effective conservation programs and engaging Canadians in stewardship activities that will have an immediate and lasting impact on Canada’s unique ecosystems and biodiversity.

Learn more about projects in this area

Species at Risk Watershed Assessment and Management of Culturally Significant Fish Species Through a Two-Eyed Seeing Approach within Mi'kma'ki, Mainland Nova Scotia

Species at Risk Watershed Assessment and Management of Culturally Significant Fish Species Through a Two-Eyed Seeing Approach within Mi'kma'ki, Mainland Nova Scotia

Recipient: The Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq

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The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq - Mi’kmaw Conservation Group assisting project partners with the release of Atlantic Salmon (Plamu’k) into the Inner Bay of Fundy watersheds
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The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq - Mi’kmaw Conservation Group’s CNFASAR Team presenting project goals and upcoming activities at the Aquatic Conservation and Monitoring workshop

Project goal: This four-year project identifies threats and improves fish habitat for multiple aquatic species at risk through biological assessments, habitat restoration and stewardship outreach in participating Mi’kmaw communities. The Two-Eyed Seeing approach of this project will bring together Mi'kmaq Ecological Knowledge (MEK) and western science, allowing for a greater understanding of the role and importance of multiple perspectives.

The project takes place in three areas across mainland Nova Scotia: the St. Croix River, Stewiacke River and Southern Gulf of Saint Lawrence watersheds. This approach addresses high-priority threats to aquatic species at risk and to species of importance in Mi’kmaq culture for food, social and ceremonial purposes. Mi’kmaw community engagement, participation and species at risk stewardship are essential parts of this project and will ensure there is a lasting, positive impact in terms of conservation, increased awareness and capacity to protect species at risk for future generations.

Fund Allocation: $2,308,257

Time Frame: 4 years

Species that benefit from this project:

Habitat restoration along the Wolastoq

Habitat restoration along the Wolastoq

Recipient: Maliseet Nation Conservation Council

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Campbell Creek Dam, Fredericton
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Collecting eDNA samples

Project goal:This four-year project improves freshwater fish habitat within the Wolastoq (St. John River) watershed through the removal of barriers to fish passage and restoration of deteriorated habitat. Specific areas to be restored as part of this project will be selected based on priority, with preference given to known habitat of fish species at risk that are of significance to Wolastoqey (Maliseet) culture and livelihood.

Fund Allocation: $896,500

Time Frame: 4 years

Species that benefit from this project:

An integrated approach for the recovery of Nova Scotia Southern Upland Aquatic Species at Risk

An integrated approach for the recovery of Nova Scotia Southern Upland Aquatic Species at Risk

Recipient: Nova Scotia Salmon Association

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Helicopter liming of an acidified watershed
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Restoration of instream physical habitat – an important aspect to maximizing freshwater productivity

Project goal:This four-year project carries out activities in the Nova Scotia Southern Uplands priority area with three main objectives. The first is to establish integrated conservation planning for priority watersheds within the Southern Uplands area by developing detailed watershed recovery and stewardship plans that promote the recovery of eight priority watersheds supporting key species at risk.

The second objective of the project is to undertake acid rain mitigation, improve aquatic connectivity and restore fish habitat. To mitigate the impact of acid rain, this project uses helicopters to apply lime to forest soils within the catchment of an important tributary of the West River, Sheet Harbour, with the assistance of Nova Scotia Lands and Forestry.

The third objective of the project is to capitalize on opportunities to design and build, or purchase critical equipment that reduce the cost associated with future ongoing restoration, further benefitting future conservation actions.

Fund Allocation: $2,916,491

Time Frame: 4 years

Species that benefit from this project:

St. Croix River habitat connectivity alternatives for migratory fishes

St. Croix River habitat connectivity alternatives for migratory fishes

Recipient: Peskotomuhkati Nation at Skutik

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St. Croix River
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Grand Falls Dam, St. Croix River

Project goal:The one-year project is focused on reconnecting the Skutik/St. Croix River and Passamaquoddy Bay ecosystems by identifying passage opportunities for at risk migratory fish species at two of the main stem dams. The project identifies fish passage issues at each site and recommends approaches to improve efficiency for passage, including fishway designs and flow requirements while considering site constraints and impacts on energy and existing infrastructure.

Restoring migratory fishes to these habitats will rebuild the critical cultural and economic relationship of the Passamaquoddy people to this unique river.

Fund Allocation: $140,000

Time Frame: 1 years

Species that benefit from this project:

Transforming our approach to species at risk: prioritizing and implementing actions for recovery in the Saint John River watershed

Transforming our approach to species at risk: prioritizing and implementing actions for recovery in the Saint John River watershed

Recipient: World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada

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Dr. Tara Martin introducing the Priority Threat Management approach
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Priority Threat Management workshop participants

Project goal:This three-year project, taking place in the Saint John River watershed, (1) contributes to an increased understanding of at-risk species in the watershed; (2) identifies targeted priority actions to address threats to species at risk; and (3) implements priority recovery measures. In the long term, the project will contribute to improvements in the populations of at risk species, as well as proactive protection of aquatic species whose populations are not yet in decline, by protecting and enhancing freshwater habitat within the watershed.

This project utilizes a Priority Threat Management (PTM) approach to maximize the persistence of species at risk in the Saint John River watershed by determining the recovery actions with the greatest likelihood of success while effectively allocating resources. WWF Canada will complete the PTM assessment enabling the identification of recovery actions within the Saint John River watershed. Next, strategies will be developed in collaboration with partner organizations, to guide and implement the actions. Priority actions will have a lasting impact on the aquatic species of conservation concern in New Brunswick.

Fund Allocation: $746,320

Time Frame: 3 years

Species that benefit from this project:

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