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And then there were fish

April 12, 2017

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As an environmental supervisor at our Long Harbour Processing Plant, Dr. Jared Saunders closely monitors our impact on the region’s marine, freshwater and terrestrial habitats, and oversees revegetation efforts to mitigate any negative impact.  Saunders heads up the Long Harbour environmental team which includes environmental coordinators Amie Chaytor and Ryan Mulrooney.

“They do most of the day-to-day monitoring work,” said Saunders, “and I work closely with the management team and regulators, ensuring that we’re compliant with the rules set out by all regulatory agencies, including Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).”

These two ponds did not exist before 2011. We created them.

The Newfoundland native started his career in the military, where he first completed an undergraduate degree in chemistry (honours), and then earned a PhD in environmental science. Saunders wrote his thesis on the metal uptake of contaminants around old mining sites, and investigated how substances like arsenic, for instance, get into and move up the food chain.

While his career is marked with numerous professional achievements, he’s especially pleased with his team’s success in  the Long Harbour revegetation projects, which has revitalized fish habitats in North and South ponds.

“Back when we developed this Processing site in Long Harbour, there were a couple ponds and streams right where we needed to construct a building. We had to move those ponds and streams to the perimeter of the site. “

Because our company honours the HADD Prohibition (which prohibits against the Harmful Alteration, Disruption or Destruction of fish habitat), it was decided that one pond, called Forgotten Pond, would be enlarged, and two new ponds – North and South ponds –  would be built to replace the fish habitats.

“These two ponds did not exist before 2011,” explained Saunders. “We created them.”

To ensure sedimentation was handled correctly, the team worked closely with the DFO to place big rocks and stones around the ponds.  This protection measure proved so successful in keeping sedimentation from occurring, that vegetation didn’t grow near the newly built ponds.  But the team wasn’t satisfied; they wanted the odds of survival for the fish to be a sure thing. Therefore, in consultation with the DFO, they planted shade trees to provide coverage from the searing summer sun. “We wanted to create the best possible ecosystem for fish to thrive, so we planted tree species like tamarack and white spruce which are native to the area.”

Fast-growing alder trees were also planted to help anchor the soil and provide shade for the other seedlings. Vegetation and grass were added at the edges of the pond to keep the soil from falling into the water.  “Then we made sure the ponds were connected to streams where fish lived, and we monitored their movement into the rebuilt habitat – where they’ve started to thrive.”

“Where there we no fish before, they now exist – and they are thriving,” Saunders stated. “That’s a very good thing for the site, the community, and of course, the fish.”

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