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Assessing the impact of instream barriers and climate change on wild Atlantic salmon

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Abstract

Project presentation via Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation (ASCF) online Webinar - September 23rd, 2020 Available online at https://youtu.be/Es9bTQq2M3k
Assessing the impact of instream
barriers and climate change on
wild Atlantic salmon
Myron King
PhD Candidate
University of Hull, UK
Supervisors: Dr. Ian G. Cowx, Dr. Michael van Zyll de Jong
WHAT ARE BARRIERS?
Stream barriers come about from:
Natural river impedances built over time
Our built environment including:
Bridges or other crossings in disrepair
Non-ecosystem engineered culverts
and broken-down culverts
Washed out roads
Hydro-dams and other installations
Impedances from storm damage due to
climate change impacts
WHERE ARE BARRIERS
LOCATED?
Barriers can be found almost anywhere on any
stream. They are often found at:
Highway crossings
Residential road crossings
Driveway crossings
Forestry and other access road crossings
Trail-way crossings
Railway crossings
POTENTIAL BARRIER LOCATIONS
Key “points” to start with – River/road crossings
(highway, forestry access, etc.)
POTENTIAL BARRIER IMPACTS
Major impact to salmon migration,
including available spawning grounds and
salmon health
Reduced non-migrating fish populations
Increased damage due to the effects of
climate change
Reduced or halted water flow
Erosion
WHAT IS LIMITING OUR
RESTORATIVE GOALS?
Often, barrier restoration decisions have been based heavily
on random visual review, with socio-political motivation a
leading factor in some. This can negatively impact restoration
progress and reduce our effectiveness
B = Crossing / Potential Barrier
! = Crossing that needs restorative attention
= Limit of crossings effectively dealt with yearly
b
!
!
!
!
!
!
b
b
b
b
b
b
b
b
b
b
b
Visualization:
We are not
dealing with all
the barriers that
need attention!
THE RESULT
Many barriers remain with high impact to salmon
populations, ecosystem function and human well-
being:
Reduction in salmon health and numbers
Risk of flooding and erosion
High environmental cost
High economical cost
Lower confidence in our management decisions
WHAT IS NEEDED?
A barrier assessment model and framework, taking
into account cumulative effects and prioritizing the
ecosystem function can:
help highlight highly impacted areas
Identify top impacting barriers
Potentially show where the greatest increase in
ecosystem health, particularly for salmon, could
be realized
Provide a starting point for managers tasked
with ecosystem-smart, economically-feasible
decision-making
WHAT IS NEEDED?
But some good studies already exist and have
been successful helping to show the major problem
of stream barriers.
Due to the complex nature of the issue, studies are
often limited by:
- data considerations / availability
- Socioeconomic factors
- Scalability / computational processing power
- Dynamics of the condition
This can limit the usefulness of a study, especially
if it does not match the economic and jurisdictional
responsibilities of our management organizations!
PROJECT GOALS
Project goals:
Develop a geo-spatial data inventory of parameters
describing the nature and impact of instream barriers
Demonstrating current cumulative ecological impacts of
climate change and other interacting stressors (i.e.,
forestry and transport activities) on salmon populations
Creating an assessment and decision making framework
tool, centered on scale-friendly GIS processing, aiming for
effective utilization by those tasked to deal with the
problem of instream barriers
RRPAT => River Restoration Planning and Analysis Tool for
managing rivers based on the Geodesign principle
A policy framework providing a structured approach for
river rehabilitation at multiple spatial and temporal scales.
Restoration approach providing guidance via integrated
design and decision-making
Visualizes social-ecological and spatial-temporal
dimensions in restoration challenges
A tool useful to case studies such as a pathway
restoration case study in the River Trent, UK, and an Island-
wide assessment of barrier impact for Newfoundland
RIVER RESTORATION AND
PLANNING ANALYSIS TOOL
The RRPAT tool is an applied action tool bringing analysis and
situational understanding directly to the decision-makers.
The applied RRPAT tool framework and workflow is substantially
thorough. (publication coming soon Myron King / Professor
Michael van Zyll de Jong / Professor Ian G. Cowx and others)
Designed to be interactive, the tool is meant to perform optimally
in a live workshop setting to achieve best decisions
RRPAT AN APPLIED TOOL
CASE STUDIES
Two major case studies globally:
Examination and assessment of potential
barriers on scheduled salmon rivers coast to
coast on the Island of Newfoundland
Analyses at the watershed level for the Trent
River System in the United Kingdom, looking at
cumulative effects of hydro-dams acting as
barrier installations
NL CASE STUDY
NL has:
Dozens of watersheds, containing many
classified salmon rivers across the island
Limited data available for many potential
barriers in terms of ecosystem, barrier, and
environmental factors
YET:
Limited management resources
Increased area of responsibility
Increased call for action and response
timeliness
STEP ONE
Develop a geo-spatial data inventory of parameters
describing the nature and impact of instream
barriers
Content developed using specialized GIS
tooling
Simple but effective for large-scale approach
assessment
Combine with RRPAT to provide stakeholders with the
information needed for critical river restoration decisions
Live workshop planned for case study
NL CASE STUDY
NL CASE STUDY
A daunting number of potential barriers on the
rivers across the island!
UK CASE STUDY
A different perspective:
More information available on hydro-dams,
ecosystem, and salmon passage numbers
Impedance to salmonid populations still
highly evident
Salmon impacts still increase cumulatively
Managers struggle between salmon friendly
practices and actions, versus highly desired and
increasingly needed clean energy sources
We
Want
Both!!
Hydropower
Installation
Structural barrier
to the
movement of
aquatic fauna
Risk of fish
entrainment in
turbine intakes and
turbine mortality
Altered physio-
chemical
conditions in
reservoirs and
downstream
Hydro-geomorphological
changes in river
functioning
Altered flow
regime in
depleted reach
Altered sediment
dynamics above
and below dam
Flow
requirements for
fish passage
facilities Governance of
resources, social
disruption, food
security, livelihoods
UK CASE STUDY
Cromwell Weir
Holme
Sluices -
Nottingham
Beeston Weir
Borrowash,
Derwent
UK CASE STUDY
Typical hydro-dam installations:
UK CASE STUDY
Key to the UK:
Hydro-dam concentrations
Cumulative effects need to be
incorporated, without endangering the
simplicity of the framework / model
Recognition of the human energy need
Live workshop planned for case study
More details about the potential barrier =>
increased complexity => more difficult picture
for management in decision-making!
THE PROJECTED WRENCH:
CLIMATE CHANGE
Impacts due to climate change must be considered as
well, despite our anxiety over our scenario estimation
Expect Increased:
Environmental
variability
Storms and damage
to infrastructure
Economic cost
Pressure on decision-makers
Climate change scenario forecasting must
be included for river restoration decision-
making to remain effective under future
climate expectations
Downscaled General Circulation Models
can help provide future temperature and
precipitation guidance at regional levels
Climate change scenario assessment
supported under RRPAT use for
management decisions.
CLIMATE CHANGE
PROJECT PARTNERS AND
SPONSORSHIP THANK YOU
QUESTIONS?
Myron King
PhD Candidate
Hull International Fisheries Institute, University of Hull, UK
Research Assistant II (Research and GIS)
Environmental Policy Institute, Memorial University of
Newfoundland (Grenfell Campus)
709-637-7570
mking@grenfell.mun.ca
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