Media Release – Community-led effort on Wellers Bay and East Lake, Ontario has lasting impacts for the Pugnose Shiner fish, a Species at Risk

Perth, ON, March 11, 2022 – A one-year project to benefit the Pugnose Shiner in the Quinte watershed is winding down, but the impacts of the project will continue for years to come.

This community-led effort included many different components to benefit the Pugnose Shiner, other wildlife, and overall freshwater quality in the Quinte watershed. Two focus areas of the project were East Lake and Wellers Bay. Participating local residents received education and stewardship materials, shoreline restorations using native plants through the Natural Edge program, and property-specific stewardship reports through the Love Your Lake Program.

The Pugnose Shiner fish is a small fish in the minnow family that is found in Southern Ontario, including areas near the Quinte watershed. It is listed as “threatened” under COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) and SARA (Species at Risk Act) Schedule 1. It is very vulnerable to declining habitat quality which is often caused by human activities on land. As such, this project focused on landowner engagement and action to help enhance and restore local Pugnose Shiner populations and habitat quality.

“Seeing the momentum build for this small fish and the importance of enhancing and restoring its habitat has been wonderful”, says Melissa Dakers, Habitat and Stewardship Program Manager at Watersheds Canada. “We are especially thankful to East Lake volunteers and the Friends of Wellers Bay for helping execute the many aspects of this project by finding volunteers, interested property owners, and raising awareness about the project in their lake community.”

The Friends of Wellers Bay is an association of volunteers dedicated to enhancing the enjoyment of the waters and beaches of the bay. The association was formed in 1987 to dredge open a channel between Lake Ontario and the Bay for easy boat access. Dredging has since become the responsibility of Quinte West while the committee remains an active voice working to improve all aspects of life on the Bay. 

“Big shout out to Watersheds Canada for their work. As a citizen’s group focused on Wellers Bay and given our area is one area in Ontario recently known to have been habitat to the Pugnose Shiner, Friends of Wellers Bay folks were hopeful that evidence of this species at risk would have been found here”, says Toby Toth, Volunteer Director at Friends of Wellers Bay. “These projects are key to understanding the shifts in landscape so that our membership can be better informed on current conditions and ways we can move forward to improve the health of the bay overall.”

The Pugnose Shiner Landowner Engagement and Shoreline Habitat Restoration Project in this area was a one-year project working to enhance the habitats of the Pugnose Shiner in the Quinte watershed. This project was generously funded by the Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program for Aquatic Species at Risk and was delivered in partnership with Quinte Conservation, Friends of Wellers Bay, West Lake Community Association, volunteers on East Lake, the County Sustainability Group, and Watersheds Canada.

“County Sustainability Group is proud to have helped support the Watersheds Canada Pugnose Shiner project here in Prince Edward County in 2021. Our sincere hope is that this has increased awareness about the importance of shoreline protection to sustaining the health of fish, wildlife and water quality in our local waterbodies. Awareness followed by action creates positive change for the future”, says Don Ross, Board Member of County Sustainability Group. 

“This project has been a fantastic opportunity to connect with waterfront landowners and encourage them to consider options that will help protect the critical habitat for this at-risk species, while helping to maintain healthy and rich populations of so many others”, says Maya Navrot, Outreach and Stewardship Coordinator at Quinte Conservation. “With so much shoreline in private ownership, landowner stewardship is critical to ensuring strong and resilient ecosystems. Our staff at Quinte Conservation are here to provide advice and expertise to help landowners restore their properties for both them, wildlife, and lake and ecosystem health. 

After completing an aquatic plant survey in summer 2021, staff at Quinte Conservation are currently finalized a report that will list recommended best management practices for invasive species that were noted on East Lake and Wellers Bay. The report will provide recommendations on slowing and stopping the spread of new species that may end up in lake, how to watch for them, and how to report them. This report, in conjunction with the lake-wide summary report produced through the Love Your Lake Program, will give residents concrete steps they can take to lead local action for the Pugnose Shiner and other species for many years to come.

Those on East Lake and Wellers Bay who are still interested in having their shoreline renaturalized by participating in the Natural Edge Program should contact Maya Navrot at Quinte Conservation:

About Watersheds Canada
Watersheds Canada is a national non-profit charitable organization that works with landowners, communities, and organizations to enhance and protect lakes and rivers through developing effective and transferable long-term solutions. Watersheds Canada envisions people caring for their waters, resulting in clean, healthy lakes and rivers to support humans and wildlife for years to come. Learn more at

About Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Fisheries and Oceans Canada is the federal lead for safeguarding Canada’s waters and managing Canada’s fisheries, oceans and freshwater resources. They help ensure healthy and sustainable aquatic ecosystems through habitat protection and sound science.


Media Contact
Melissa Dakers
Habitat and Stewardship Program Manager
Watersheds Canada