Irrigation Lake would stop being stocked with fish if the dam were removed, unless it was proven to be a closed system.
Irrigation Lake is typically stocked with Coastal Cutthroat Trout once a year but due to a hatchery shortage this year, was stocked instead with 3,000 Rainbow Trout on June 4.
Brennan Clarke, Spokesperson for the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations says that the fish are stocked for recreation and it doesn’t change the situation with the dam.
“Public safety has to come first. As nice as recreational fishing is, if there’s a safety issue the province has a responsibility under the Water Act to take steps to ensure public safety,” said Clarke.
Clarke says that if the dam was removed, the lake would no longer be stocked unless it was shown to be a closed system, with no inlets or outlets for fish.
“[In a closed system] hatchery fish may be released, but they cannot escape [or] interact with wild stocks,” said Clarke.
He says the lake is stocked with sterile fish, not able to reproduce, because such fish divert energy into growth and are larger, and it reduces the risk of negative genetic interactions with natural stocks.
“The loss of habitat associated with dam removal would have no impact upon wild sport fish species,” he said.
He adds that if the dam was removed it would lower the lake level, reducing available fish habitat and the waterbody may be recolonized by native fish species.
Clarke says that the Ministry is working with stakeholders in hopes of securing a new licence holder for the dam, and at press time, no one has stepped up to take on the licence.
“Regardless, the dam will remain in place this summer,” said Clarke.