PEMBROKE - A blocked sluice that used to be a passageway for kiack (fish) has been reopened between Pembroke Cove and Goose Flats. The fish accessed the passageway during high tide to eventually reach nearby Island Pond, where they spawned.
The work was completed on March 19 by an excavator and funded by the Department of Fisheries.
Loren Cushing, councillor for the Municipality of Yarmouth, says it’s been several years since the sluice was dredged properly.
“During that time local residents took it upon themselves to help the conservation need of the yearly migrating fish,” he said.
“Unfortunately, with the tight restrictions of environment (department) over the last few years, volunteers have shied away from breaking the law,” he added.
Although volunteer efforts were appreciated by the community, the volunteers lacked access to do a more thorough job using heavy machinery.
Part of the problem was a barrier.
Last year, landowners at the end of the Cranberry Head road positioned large rocks across their property to prevent passage to the shoreline. Machinery could no longer reach the sluice using that approach and the use of a beach that residents had been accessing for decades was prevented.
The excavator that recently reclaimed the channel filled in by the ocean had to travel close to a kilometre along a narrow rocky shoreline ridge on the south side to reach the site.
Cushing says a more permanent and easier way to access the beach and sluice by the Israel Allen J road or via other entries will be pursued in the future.
“I can understand that private property has to be respected. However, I believe it is just as important for the public to be able to gain access to the beach,” he said, referring to the trail blockage by the owners.
“In southwest Nova Scotia we are famous for our beaches. If the public is not allowed to walk along a beach or have access to a beach, I believe there is something wrong with the system.”
He added that those who use and enjoy beaches must respect the owner who has invested money in beachfront property.
One of the reasons the Cranberry Head Road property owners put the rock barrier in place is because of the damage to, and littering of, their property by vandals. Four-wheelers also trespassed on their land, causing significant damage to turf.
Cushing says he understands that misuse of four-wheelers is a huge problem because of the damage they can do to a property.
“But I also believe with the co-operation of the community and property owners and education on respect for property and the natural beauty of our shorelines, a co-existence can be achieved by all interested parties.
“The community is willing to continue to make our community a great place to live, raise our families and enjoy our natural scenery,” he said.
Other plans are for the community to form a non-profit society to apply for grants to continue the necessary work on the Goose Flats sluice.
More about Kiack
Known in southwestern Nova Scotia as kiack and in other parts of Atlantic Canada as gaspereau, adult fish are caught during their spring spawning migration upstream. The fish are scooped out of shallow, constricted areas using large dip nets.
They are used as bait in the lobster fishery and are eaten smoked by humans.