Nova Scotia

Marine life being relocated in Sydney Harbour

A four-year plan was put into action in Sydney, N.S., Monday to relocate marine life.

Species caught and released away from dredging path

Marine species are being caught and released away from the path of a dredging project slated for Sydney Harbour. (CBC)
A four-year plan to relocate marine life within the harbour of Sydney, N.S., was put into action on Monday.

Marine species will be caught and released before the $38-million dredging of the harbour begins to help preserve the future of the fishery .

About 1,000 traps and seven vessels will collect the marine life, which will be relocated from the path of the dredge site to nine other areas within the harbour.

Forty-two members of the Sydney Harbour Fishers Association have been hired to catch and release everything from shellfish to eels.

Melanie Sampson, the association's president, acknowledges they likely won't be able to move every species that lives in the harbour.

"There will be as little harm done [as possible], but whatever we can catch and relocate — that will be an animal that can be caught and reproduced the following year," Sampson said.

The process will be monitored by Cape Breton University students.

Dr. Bruce Hatcher, with CBU, said the research should provide insight on how the activity will affect the fishery.

"Understanding how many animals were killed by the dredge, how many were saved and where they went to after they were moved … and they will able to form their own opinion on how this dredge activity affected their livelihoods," said Hatcher.

The cost of the relocation is about $300,000.

More than 40 fishermen have been hired to carry out the relocation program, monitored by Cape Breton University students. (CBC)
Bernie Neville, one of the fishermen who will be involved in the catch-and-release effort, said he thinks it will take about five years to learn whether the relocation was the right thing to do. If not, he said, there will be a lot of pain.

"Then we are all in trouble. We all have $250,000 to $300,000 invested in all this and if it goes, there's going to be … a lot hurting," Neville said.

For deck hands, it means an extended season.

"It's going to give a lot of guys that didn't have any work. It's going to help pay the bills at home, that's for sure," said Rory MacDonald.

A deeper harbour will be able to accommodate bigger vessels and could lead to construction of a container terminal. Officials with the Port of Sydney say the additional cargo ship traffic will generate thousands of new jobs over the short and long term.