Media Release – Pugnose Shiner fish on West Lake, Ontario sees restored habitat, increased awareness thanks to community-led project

Perth, ON, April 12, 2022 – A two-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. One focus area of the project was West Lake. 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 is a small fish in the minnow family that is found in Southern Ontario including near the Quinte watershed. It is assessed as “threatened” by COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) and listed as such under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) Schedule 1. It is very vulnerable to declining habitat quality which is often caused by human activities on land. This project thus focused on landowner engagement and action to help enhance and restore local Pugnose Shiner populations and habitat quality.

“Seeing the momentum build over the two years 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 the West Lake Community Association 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 West Lake Community Association (WLCA) was formed by a few West Lake Village residents in the spring of 2020 who wanted to encourage interest and engage residents living in the small communities around the shorelines of West Lake to help preserve the uniqueness, health and natural habitats of a variety of wildlife (including a few endangered species) living and migrating through West Lake and the West Lake wetlands area.

The mandate of the WLCA is to promote the protection of the environment and ecosystem through educational workshops by cultivating connections with like-minded environmental and nature organizations such as Watersheds Canada.

“Everyone in our community enjoyed their interaction with all staff who were involved with a wide variety of activities over the course of the program. Everyone was so friendly and knowledgeable that it made for a wonderful experience for everyone in our community. We are looking forward to participating in future projects and programs”, says Cathie Coultis, Chairperson of the West Lake Community Association.

The Pugnose Shiner Landowner Engagement and Shoreline Habitat Restoration Project was a two-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 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 in 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 finalizing a report that will list recommended best management practices for invasive species that were noted on West Lake. 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 WLCA and local residents concrete steps they can take to lead local action for the Pugnose Shiner and other species for many years to come.

Those on West Lake 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 (DFO) helps to ensure healthy and sustainable aquatic ecosystems through habitat protection and sound science. DFO allocates a significant amount of time and resources to protecting and recovering aquatic species at risk. The Species at Risk Program (SARP) is responsible for delivering on DFO’s Species at Risk Act (SARA) requirements. Protecting species at risk requires a holistic and collaborative approach with internal and external partners of the department to achieve results.


Media Contact

Melissa Dakers
Habitat and Stewardship Program Manager
Watersheds Canada