Regenerate NL: How coastal habitat restoration helps at-risk fish species

Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) is home to 27 species officially listed as endangered, 10 considered threatened and 14 as vulnerable. A key driver of this wildlife decline is habitat degradation and loss, compounded by climate change.

Parkers Brook restoration work
Restoration work on Parker’s River in Newfoundland (© Hans Lindner)

It is a problem that our latest Living Planet Report Canada revealed to be widespread across the country, with populations of at-risk species dropping by 59 per cent on average since 1970.

To help address this issue in NL, WWF-Canada has been supporting the restoration of critical coastal habitats for species such as capelin, Atlantic salmon and Arctic char.

With $3.7 million from Fishery and Ocean Canada’s (DFO) historic Coastal Restoration Fund, WWF-Canada has worked with more than 30 partners over the past five years to:

© Catharine Tunnacliffe / WWF-Canada
  • Restore historic capelin habitat at Ship Cove beach in Placentia Bay, NL, where continued community monitoring has shown that capelin have returned to successfully spawn each year since the beach was replenished;
  • Restore unique habitat in Parker’s River on Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula, improving access to two square kilometers of spawning and rearing habitat for Atlantic salmon and the southernmost-known population of anadromous Arctic char (meaning they’re born in freshwater but spend most of their lives in saltwater only returning to freshwater to spawn);
  • Ensure safe passage for migrating salmon in four rivers (Shinny’s Brook, Windmill Bight, Avondale and Arnold’s Cove) while maintaining beaver infrastructure via a fish-friendly flow device called a “beaver baffler” to support 238 square kilometres of multi-species habitat; and
  • Support job creation and training for over 30 individuals with our Indigenous and local partners to empower stewardship, research, and restoration prioritization.

The negative repercussions of human activities on our lands, waters and wildlife can make one feel hopeless. But by partnering with communities and combining Indigenous knowledge with conservation science, we are reducing these impacts and giving nature a chance.

For more on WWF-Canada’s ambitious restoration goals check out our Regenerate Canada 10-year plan.