New cameras will help count, identify fish in Ganaraska River
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Lake Ontario Management Unit, along with volunteers are installing a state-of-the-art camera system at Corbett’s Dam along the Ganaraska River.
Assessment Biologist Mike Yuille and volunteers from Port Hope were at Corbett’s dam on Wednesday tuning up the device that is called Riverwatcher and made by Vaki Aquaculture Systems in Iceland. The website is http://www.riverwatcher.is/.
The device will not only be able to count the fish coming through the fishway, but it will also have a video camera and will be able to tell the different species going through.
With a number of fish passing through the fishway, including Chinook salmon, coho salmon, brown trout and rainbow trout, it’s not only important to determine the fish are going through, but what type of fish are going through.
“The benefit of this new counter is it will count the fish, but it will also allow us to see the fish and figure out what species it is, which helps in terms of population,” Yuille said.
The old counter, which was installed in the early 1970s still works, but is not produced any longer so there is concern if it breaks there would not be any parts available.
“Once it’s fully operational the information will be available online so every day the public can log on and see what’s being recorded and the number of fish that have gone through, temperatures and variety of other parameters,” Yuille said.
Yuille said the video camera system is rare in Canada and he’s only aware of one other for documenting fish.
“There are cameras out there, but this is more unique,” he said. “The other camera systems out there that video fish moving through, I think they require people to be there, where this will do it automatically.”
Workers installed the previous counter that has a number of channels the fish swim through, but quickly found out the salmon were too large and strong.
“After the first five Chinook going through they smashed it to pieces,” Yuille said. “It’s been repaired as best we can and it still works and we will likely use it in the spring for rainbow to calibrate between the old and the new system, but the benefit is, and the reason why we want to see the fish is there are a variety of species in this river.”
“We want to know what species and the numbers going through,” he continued. “The previous counter, it’s just a number. Before we would know 1,000 fish went through, now we’ll know, 1,000 fish went through; 50% were Chinook, 20% were coho salmon, etc.”
Yuille stated with Atlantic salmon being newly introduced to the river, in two years time, they will be able to see if they are returning to the river and determine the success of the stocking program.
“This wouldn’t be possible without the volunteers we have in Port Hope that monitor the river and keep us informed,” Yuille added.
The goal of the system is to have it up and running for the spring rainbow trout run of 2017.