Saugeen Ojibway Nation is heading up a Shoreline Monitoring Project to investigate changes in the fishery and the waters around the Bruce Peninsula.
Fisheries Biologist and SON Energy Manager Kathleen Ryan says there are changes in the fish in their traditional territories, "Our fishermen have been telling us what they're seeing and it concerns us."
She says yellow perch seem to be increasing in number and in all age classes, and Whitefish which are a staple of the commercial fishery are feeding on invasive zebra and quagga mussels since the mussels have been eating most of the plankton that Whitefish normally eat.
Ryan says the project is a response to SON's intervention at Bruce Power's licence renewal hearing. An outcome of that is Bruce Power and the Canadian Nuclear Safety commission are required to do something to address SON's concerns, "It's really led by SON and it's going to be all over the Peninsula waters and not just focused on Bruce Power," says Ryan.
The project is funded by Bruce Power and the CNSC and roughly has a three-year window starting in 2019. It will examine fish communities, temperature, water quality and contaminants like phosphorous. It will also look at nutrients in the water. Ryan says they'll do plant surveys underwater including studying algae and the wetlands which she says are being inundated by wetland plant invasive species.
According to Ryan, the project will employ at least four community members and possibly give SON more baseline data and inventory data on the waters of the Peninsula than any other government agency has.