xiv. Loss of Fish and Wildlife Habitat

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BUI xiv Loss of Fish and Wildlife Habitat

Status: Impaired

What was the original problem? Wetlands in Cootes Paradise and the mouth of the Grindstone Creek and the littoral shore of Hamilton Harbour were severely degraded. 60% of wetland habitat in Hamilton Harbour had been lost to filling for industry and the port. Hamilton Harbour had lost most of its underwater reefs and shoals used by fish for spawning and nursery habitat. Colonial water-birds resident in Hamilton Harbour were on port lands that were contaminated and slated for development.
Contaminated sediment and low oxygen conditions in the hypolimnion of Hamilton Harbour limited both the diversity and abundance of benthic organisms and resident fish and prevented coldwater fish species of Lake Ontario from using historically important coldwater habitat in Hamilton Harbour.
Listing Guideline: When fish and wildlife management goals have not been met as a result of loss of fish and wildlife habitat due to a perturbation in the physical, chemical, or biological integrity of the Boundary Waters, including wetlands.
Delisting Guideline: When the amount and quality of physical, chemical, and biological habitat required to meet fish and wildlife management goals have been achieved and protected.
What Has Been Done?
  • Programs to control carp, improve inflowing water quality, and decrease turbidity in order to return aquatic vegetation to the Cootes Paradise Marsh are ongoing. Similar programs are in place for the Grindstone Marsh system. Within Hamilton Harbour, fish habitat has been constructed along the western shoreline and Bayfront Park, LaSalle Park and the north-eastern shoreline
  • A shoal was recently constructed in the north-east corner of Hamilton Harbour to provide spawning habitat for existing littoral spawners (e.g.Walleye, Smallmouth Bass) and to encourage extirpated ones to return to Hamilton Harbour (Lake Herring, Lake Whitefish)
  • Colonial water-bird islands have been constructed north of the Canada Centre for Inland Waters. Wetland habitat is presently being constructed in Windermere Basin along with islands for common terns
How Are Things Today?
Details here
What Still Needs To Happen?
  • Continued restoration and sustaining of aquatic vegetation to the entire Cootes Paradise and Grindstone Creek Marshes
  • Restoration of the marshlands creates the prime ingredient required for improving the quantity and quality of wildlife habitat
  • Increase the dissolved oxygen in the hypolimnion to provide a 4 metre deep layer of oxygenated water > 6ppm as described in BUI viii. Planned tertiary improvements at the Wastewater Treatment Plants will substantially reduce phosphorus and ammonia loadings to the Harbour, which should increase dissolved oxygen levels
  • Additional improvement to aquatic habitat will result from remedial actions related to toxic contaminants
When Will The Status Change?
  • Water quality is presently a major limiting factor in improving the quality and quantity of aquatic plants. As improvements are made to Wastewater Treatment Plants, urban runoff, and rural runoff the quantity and quality of submergent aquatic, habitat will also improve. Sustainability is likely during the decade following 2020

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Photo Credit: Dave Heidebrecht