When Goodyear’s Dam on the Exploits River sustained extensive damage from heavy ice over the 2014-15 winter, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro (Hydro) proudly teamed up with key partners to look after migrating salmon. The Exploits River is a popular fishing and tourism destination in central Newfoundland,
Goodyear’s Dam is an ice control structure that protects the generation units at the Grand Falls hydroelectric dam, roughly two kilometres downstream. Adult salmon normally migrate past Goodyear’s Dam through fishways in the dam. However, the damage had made the fishways inoperable.
As repairs were being made on the dam, Hydro took a lead role in the operation to capture and transport approximately 24,000 salmon around the breached dam by truck during the annual salmon run – without losing a single fish.
Hydro’s Environment team worked with an independent fish biologist and the local Environment Resources Management Association (ERMA) to oversee the fish transfer operation.
Every precaution was taken to assist the fish in a safe journey. And it was a very labour intensive effort.
In mid-July, the fish were caught in the fishway area in Grand Falls and transported by truck about 6 km upstream to bypass Goodyear’s Dam. About 30-40 fish were trucked at a time, under continuous monitoring. Weather conditions were considered, temperatures were measured, the tank water was kept aerated and the fish were eventually released safely through a pipe attachment to avoid overhandling.
It took roughly 700 trips to transport all the fish.
After the dam repairs were complete, ten salmon were tagged with radio telemetry in and released back in the river to track and ensure that the fish were able to get through the fishway and back on their natural migration pattern.
During the summer, there was a great deal of interest and concern from the local media, the nearby towns and local outfitters. After all, this is a river that is very busy and active with adventure tourism, boating, and salmon fishing. Every July, there is a community Salmon Festival in Grand-Falls-Windsor.
The operation was a complete success and exemplifies Hydro’s commitment to the ongoing development and protection of the salmon run on the Exploits River.