Re-designation of the Degradation of Fish and Wildlife Populations BUI (Canadian Side)

The Degradation of Fish and Wildlife Populations BUI was listed as “Impaired” in the Stage 1 RAP report (1992) because native fish populations were being affected by habitat alteration, overfishing, pollution, and invasive species. Although at the time wildlife populations appeared to be stable or increasing, it was noted that assessment criteria was needed to determine whether wildlife populations were impaired; and therefore, further assessment was required.

Since the river was designated as an AOC, vast improvements have been made to help restore water quality and ecosystem health through a series of remedial actions and monitoring initiatives on both sides of the river. Upon completion of the Little Rapids Restoration Project, the Degradation of Fish and WildlifePopulations BUI was re-designated to “Not Impaired” on the U.S. side of the St. Marys River AOC (September 23, 2019).

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) completed an assessment of the AOC fish community using the index of biotic integrity (IBI) approach in two separate studies, encompassing fieldwork and data analysis in 2006-08 and 2014-15. Both studies conclude the St. Marys River is home to a relatively healthy fish community that is complex, diverse, and dominated by native species.

All recommended remedial and monitoring actions pertaining to the wildlife component of the Degradation of Fish and Wildlife Populations BUI have been completed. The assessments and work completed show that the overall health of wildlife in the St. Marys River is comparable to non-AOC areas. It is therefore recommended a change in status from “Requires Further Assessment” to “Not Impaired”.

Based on the lines-of-evidence presented for both fish and wildlife populations and the fulfilling of the delisting criteria, it is now being recommended that the Degradation of Fish and Wildlife Populations BUI for the Canadian side of the St. Marys River AOC be re-designated to “Not Impaired”.