The Plan

View the entire plan by clicking here (PDF)

  • The sea-run alewife (gaspereau) is a native fish species that plays a vital role in the food webs of the freshwater, marine, and terrestrial ecosystems in the St. Croix basin. It requires upstream access to spawn. The restrictions on its passage in place since 1987 have reduced the alewife in the basin to numbers that are not self-sustaining. (pp. 1-2)

  • The International Joint Commission (IJC) and its International St. Croix River Watershed Board (Board) asked the binational inter-agency St. Croix Fisheries Steering Committee (FSC) to propose an adaptive plan to manage reopening of the basin to alewives. (p. 2ff.)

  • The draft plan’s goal is to restore a self-sustaining alewife population, while maintaining the smallmouth bass fishery at current or higher levels. Great care has been taken to protect the sport fishery as alewives are reintroduced in the system. (p. 1)

  • Spednic Lake,West Grand Lake, and all points upstream of them, have been excluded from the area being reopened to the alewives. One-third of the alewife’s estimated natural spawning habitat would be reopened under the plan. (p. 1, pp. 4-8)

  • Excluding the other areas recognizes the concerns of sport fishermen due to the rapid decline in the bass population in Spednic Lake 25-30 years ago, even though factors other than the alewife may have played a role in that decline. (pp. 8-10)

  • Adaptive management means that bass reproductive success will be monitored to determine the pace of rebuilding the alewife. After reaching six alewives per acre (14.8 per hectare), the number of alewife allowed to pass (escapement) will grow only if bass are successfully reproducing; hold steady if bass reproduction is low; and slow if the smallmouth bass reproduction fails – even if other factors such as low spawning season temperatures are responsible for the smallmouth bass population decline. (pp. 10-15)

  • An interagency group would implement the plan and review proposed changes over the years to come. The drafters propose a notional division of labor and costs among the Federal and State/Provincial agencies on both sides of the border, with support from the International Joint Commission. (pp. 16-18)

  • The drafters drew on their accumulated decades of expertise and experience in the watershed, along with the body of relevant scientific literature (references, pp. 19-21)

  • Compared with unrestricted reopening (i.e., no plan), the plan adds an average ten years to the time required to reach the escapement goal – and longer, should the bass population not grow as expected. (pp. 21-23)