Fish for the islands

The Port of Montreal will complete work this year to provide fish with spawning areas at several islands of the Boucherville Islands archipelago.

A view of the channel between Tourte Blanche et Dufault islands.

A team of workers is in the process of seeding and planting at sites that are being redeveloped on five islands of the port-managed Boucherville Island archipelago. The initiative is creating spawning areas for fish – grass beds that fish can reach during the spring egg-laying season. The sites are located in the northwest area of the archipelago and are not accessible to the public.

Under the project, the Port of Montreal is creating fish habitat banks, an initiative that is part of an agreement between the Montreal Port Authority and the Fisheries and Oceans Canada Fish Habitat Management Branch. The Coastal Fisheries Protection Act calls for the creation or improvement of habitant banks as compensation for the impact of development projects, such as the development of berths, on the environment.

The islands had been used for agricultural purposes until 2008. Much of the area was subject to flooding. Farmers had built roads between the islands, which prevented fish from moving freely in open waters.


Spawning area on Lafontaine island.

To start, the road connecting Montbrun and Lafontaine islands was removed. Then, spawning areas were developed on Lafontaine, Dufault and Tourte Blanche islands. Common water reeds (Phragmites) that literally blocked the flow of water were removed. Channels between the islands were dug deeper to ensure an area of open water even during low-water periods or, in other words, the period of the year when water is at its lowest level.

The work took into account water level fluctuations in order to ensure a larger area for fish and a sufficient duration of flooding, particularly during the spring spawning season.

Aquatic plants are located on each side of the central open water zone. Young fish from the nearby spawning area need these plants in order to protect and feed themselves. Thanks to the seeding and planting, fish are able to find safe and quiet areas that will help ensure their reproduction.