Original article, January 2016.
OPINION: Potash Mine Closure Could Save Inner Bay of Fundy Salmon. Wanna Bet?
The economic impacts of the mine closure in Sussex are huge and at the outset I want to stress that this article does not, in anyway, diminish those impacts. That said, sometimes there are positive results that aren’t readily apparent.
|Atlantic Salmon Smolt - Art MacKay|
As a biologist who has carried out studies related to the Inner Bay of Fundy and the pipeline that carries brine waste from the potash operations in Sussex to the Bay of Fundy, I have been aware of several things that have been negatively impacting these populations for years.
Back in the sixties and seventies it was clear cutting in the inner Bay of Fundy that was destroying salmon spawning areas, industrial pollution, budworm spray and agricultural chemicals that were the concern. This was followed by increasing pollution from shore-side domestic treatment facilities as well as major new types of concern such as elevated salinity from the brine line serving the potash mines in Sussex and emptying into the Bay of Fundy near St. Martins..
None of these factors have gone away, but in the case of the brine line, it is important to realize that this is not seawater and ocean creatures cannot live in it. In fact it is likely instantly lethal.
Think of it like thick, toxic smoke. Are you going to walk through it to get to your destination? Not likely. Similarly, brine forms a physiological barrier and fish will not pass through it either. In fact they likely turn about and accompany other salmon up the Saint John and other Outer Bay of Fundy rivers and streams.
As for the smolts coming down to go to sea, the research results show they are scattered … again it may be because they cannot follow their traditional route to the open ocean.
So if there are any salmon left that are predisposed to return to the Inner Bay, then I believe they will now do so since the barrier has or will be removed.