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Annapolis River - Slippery business

Eels and other catches of the Annapolis

More on the Annapolis River:
Annapolis River:
Land of Evangeline

Apple Core:
Orchard blossoms in the valley

Fourteenth Colony:
An extension of New England

First Colony:
The beginning of European settlement in Canada

Grand Dérangement:
Deportation of the Acadians

For peat’s sake:
The ecology of peat bogs

Slippery business:
Eels and other catches of the Annapolis

Steal away:
Destination on the underground railway

Waste water is cleansed by the sun

Digby, at the western end of the Annapolis basin, has the world's largest fleet of scallop draggers. The colourful mollusks, with their hinged, fan-shaped shell, lie on the bottom of the sea or attach themselves to objects. The Annapolis basin is also harvested for crabs and clams. At low tides, clam diggers collect clams to sell or to cook right on the beach.

The American eel lives in the river, but goes to sea to spawn and die. Eel traps, baited nets, and weirs are used to catch migrating eels in the fall. Catches are exported live, iced, frozen, or smoked. Jellied eel is prized as a delicacy in Great Britain.

Valley fishers also harvest the abundant supply of winter flounder which migrates between the Bay of Fundy and the shallow salt marshes of the river. Flounder are born with one eye on either side of their head just like other fish. But, gradually, one eye migrates to join the other on just one side of the head. The flounder is perfectly adapted to spending the rest of its life on its side, foraging for food flat against the seabed or river bottom.

Sturgeon have been important in the Annapolis fishery. Identified by their sucker-like mouths, white underbellies, and blue-black backs, sturgeon are bottom-feeders who prefer deeper water. They are scaleless fish who have hooked plates along their bodies to deter predators like the sea lamprey. Sturgeon eggs or roe are made into expensive caviar.

Pollution and dam construction have limited the sturgeon numbers but they are still caught in weirs and gill nets. The turbine blades of the Annapolis Tidal Generating Station near the river's mouth are an enemy of the sturgeon as well as other fish like shad.

The Annapolis River fishery suffers significantly from water pollution. Fish quantity and quality are being affected by forestry, agriculture, and the construction of roads, dams, and bridges. Erosion and the building up of silt affect the fish stock as does the loss of aquatic vegetation. The growing number of fish farms pollutes both scallop and clam beds. Annapolis clams must be kept in clean water tanks to flush out bacterial content before they can be sold.

The Clean Annapolis River Project Society (CARP) has developed a program of fishery rehabilitation and management for the Annapolis Valley.

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