|Harbour fish habitats threatened,
By Amy Pugsley Fraser /
Industrial infilling and development could threaten the
habitats of fish that have thrived in Halifax Harbour for the
past 10,000 years, a group learned Sunday at the Bedford
Institute of Oceanography.
"Prehistoric people relied on the fisheries in Halifax
Harbour," Jim Ross told about 100 people who gathered for the
last presentation at a BIO open house.
It's the first time in four years that Canada's largest
oceanographic facility has hosted an open house.
There were so many visitors - some staffers estimated that
35,000 went through the building over the four days - that
many tour guides were encouraging people to return when it
wasn't so busy.
"We have a summer student who gives tours through the
week," one staffer told a long trail of people snaking their
way through the building's corridors.
Even at closing time, people were still lining up to check
out the viewing tanks and displays and tour the Hudson, BIO's
The most popular room hosted the "dead shark on ice" - a
small shark caught off Sambro. Even around 400 A.D., "people
would spend the summers fishing and collecting shellfish in
Halifax Harbour," Mr. Ross told a group gathered in the main
Today, Halifax Harbour is closed to shellfish harvesting
due to high fecal coliform levels.
But a map of fish habitats in the harbour shows an
abundance of mussels and clams in the waters between the two
In addition, the deep waters of the harbour are home to
lobster, cod, haddock, herring and bait fish as well as
recreational fishing favourites like salmon, gaspereau,
pollock and smelt.
Mr. Ross admits he's even sampled a few of them.
"I have eaten fish out of Halifax Harbour - sea urchin,
lobster, cod," he said in a brief interview after his
The practice of fishing for food in the harbour continues
today, he says.
"Just go down in late summer to the A. Murray MacKay
Bridge. There's always one or two boats there with people
fishing for something to eat."
Despite the high fish population in the harbour, fish
habitats could be at risk from the wharfs, breakwaters, walls
and infilling that come with harbourside development.
Mr. Ross, who has worked as a senior habitat manager at BIO
for several years and has also advised the federal government
on aquaculture, encourages waterside property owners to find
out their responsibilities before they bring on the
"The key is to enter into discussions with regulators at an
early enough stage so that habitat values can be incorporated
into your plans and projects."
"Most developers know that," he said, adding that he likes
to give talks to educate the public.
"We're only given so much fish habitat and when it's gone,