Panel to mediate Maine-N.B. gaspereau dispute
An international commission will help mediate a dispute between Canada and the United States after Maine blockaded the St. Croix River to prevent gaspereau from migrating upstream.
The International Joint Commission is holding meetings starting on June 27 in St. Stephen. The panel is made up of appointees from the United States and Canada and resolves water disputes on waterways shared by the two countries.
Almost 50 environmental groups have petitioned the panel, which has been consulting with different organizations for several years, to review Maine's actions to cut off gaspereau from the St. Crox River.
When Maine blocked the river to gaspereau in 1995, there were more than two million of the small fish in the river.
The fish population has dropped significantly after the state's actions.
Lee Sochasky, the executive director of the St. Croix International Waterway Commission, said she was surprised last summer when the gaspeau's population actually jumped 600 per cent.
"Sixty thousand was more fish than we'd had in the previous eight years all totalled," Sochasky said.
The state shut down access to St. Croix River in an effort to appease bass anglers on the U.S. side. Bass are an introduced fish to the river.
The Atlantic Salmon Federation is one of the groups that has appealed to the International Joint Commission to try to get Maine's blockade lifted.
Jonathon Carr, the federation's director of research, said it is encouraging to see how well the St. Croix gaspereau can do even in the two per cent of the river they now have to live in.
"It shows you that if an animal is on the brink of extinction and you can open something as simple as just the habitat those fish will eventually return," Carr said.