Souris watershed group receives national award
By Jonathan Charlton
The Souris and Area branch of the PEI Wildlife Federation was presented the 2012 National Recreational Fishing Award by Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Keith Ashfield in Souris Thursday.
Co-ordinator Fred Cheverie said the award was possibly the highest achievement a watershed group could accomplish.
“It’s like gold in the Olympics.”
The minster said the work of the group, founded in 1954 and caring for more than a tenth of the land mass of PEI, is a model for other watershed groups to follow.
“Recreational fishing is a tradition worth preserving and protecting for future generations. I offer my sincere congratulations to the Souris and Area branch of the PEI Wildlife Federation for their outstanding contribution to recreational fishing in Canada.”
After the praise from the minster, Mr Cheverie thanked him for the recognition and pledged to continue to improve the environment, but said cuts from both federal and provincial governments have forced the group to do less.
He said recreational fishing, with all the revenue it brings in, should be considered like other industries and could use an influx of cash.
He framed recreational fishing as a green industry, providing both jobs and an activity to a society struggling with obesity.
The group has seen great success recently in restoring the population of Atlantic salmon, and is also involved two other major projects. One is to enhance streams following a sleet storm last winter to ensure fish can get to their spawning grounds, and the other is working with other agencies to research nitrates leaching into groundwater in the spring plowing compared to the fall plowing.
Mr Cheverie said the group is well supported by the community and the spirit of cooperation with farmers is “unheralded” compared to other parts of the Island.
In the Souris watershed, farmers can make a living while being environmentally friendly, he said.
“They are certainly one of our more active civic groups,” Souris Mayor David MacDonald said, considering the leadership and volunteer work the group performs.
“You don’t get recognized nationally if you’re a stick in the mud.”
He said he’d hate to think what the watershed would look like without the group.
“Everything these people do contributes to a healthier watershed.”
The group, which has 200 volunteer members, was nominated by the Town of Souris. The award was created in 1989 to recognize outstanding contributions in community leadership, restoring and enhancing fisheries and fish habitat or promoting conservation and sustainable recreational fishing.
Photo: The Souris and Area branch of the PEI Wildlife Federation received the 2012 National Recreational Fishing Award from Fisheries and Oceans Minister Keith Ashfield Thursday. The minister praised the group for their work improving the Souris area watershed. Back row from left are Fan MacIntyre, Justin McKinnon, Fred Cheverie, Fred Ward, Michael Jacklyn. Front row from left are Brian MacDonald, Joe MacDonald, Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield, Paul Gallant, Jill MacPhee, Steve Cheverie and Tony Meade. Jonathan Charlton photo