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Gaspereau fish kill could have been caused by effort to increase water levels for Apple Blossom duck race

Dead gaspereaux have been collecting around fish nets along the Gaspereau River for several days now.
Dead gaspereaux have been collecting around fish nets along the Gaspereau River for several days now.

GASPEREAU, NS - Dead fish have been turning up in the Gaspereau River over the past week.

Chris Gertridge checked his family fish net the morning of May 29 and found it full of dead fish after the weekend ban on fishing.

“We noticed them last week,” he said, “and my father spoke to Nova Scotia Power (NSP). But, it wasn’t really alarming. Then we started to see more and more.”

NSP’s senior manager for communications, David Rodenhiser, said the company is looking into the issue.

“We are working right now with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to learn everything we can about what happened on the Gaspereau River,” he said.

“We will adapt our procedures appropriately, based on what we learn. We believe the gaspereau were drawn into the turbine when we increased water flow through the White Rock hydroelectric station Sunday afternoon (May 28) in order to boost flow through the White Rock Canal for the annual Apple Blossom Festival charity rubber duck race.”

It's not unusual to increase the water flow this time of year, he added, but this is the first time they have seen a fish kill.

“We have been increasing the water flows to assist organizers with the charity rubber duck race for 22 years, and we have not experienced this before.”

According to Gertridge, he and other members of the Gaspereau River Fishermen’s Association “don’t really know what’s causing the kill, but it’s not a good thing. We hate to see fish killed. We need to figure it out.”

The fishing season on the river ends May 30. The association did have a meeting in the spring with Department of Fisheries staff and Nova Scotia Power, Gertridge said.

The last big fish kill occurred in June 2002. At that time, an NSP hydro engineer blamed a new diversion structure that wasn’t working perfectly.

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