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$1.6M seawall repair project will also improve fishing along the Niagara River

A look at the seawall along the Niagara River, where several men are fishing and the peace Bridge appears in the background
Mike Desmond
Several men fish along the Niagara River on a leisurely Sunday afternoon.

The Army Corps of Engineers is making it a little easier for predator fish and birds on Lake Erie and the Niagara River to have dinner.

When the line of anglers who were standing along the river side of Broderick Park Sunday had their hooks in the water, they were probably looking for a good-sized fish, perhaps for dinner. Likely, they weren't paying any attention to emerald shiners.

Portions of the seawall are rocky and hazardous.
Mike Desmond
A warning sign (l) cautions people to stay off the rocky portion of the river's seawall.

Larger fish and birds were paying a lot of attention, however, since the shiners are their prey fish. Working with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has a construction contract out to create a corridor along the sea wall to allow the shiners to head upstream as well as down.

Corps Project Manager Tim Noon said this will allow the shiners to thrive until dinner time.

"They are critical to both fish, but also to birds and the Niagara River is listed as a globally significant, important bird area. The emerald shiner sits at the bottom of that food web," noon said. "So it serves a really critical role in keeping a healthy ecosystem and healthy population of fish and wildlife, both in Lake Erie and in the Niagara River."

Red caution wiring covers a metal gateway along the Niagara River due to disrepair
Mike Desmond
The seawall along the Niagara River in Broderick Park needs significant repairs.

Sections of the seawall are in bad shape and need significant repairs. The $1.6 million to Bidco Marine Group will allow the deteriorating river wall to be repaired and then a series of baffles will be installed to slow down the river current to allow the shiners to move along the wall against the 8-mile-per-hour current and toward Lake Erie.

"So it is kind of a fish ladder. It is a fish passage but in a different way," Noon said. "The design is really intended to minimize the impact from ice and debris and to be long-term resilient. We're going to monitor that to ensure that that's the case and try to learn any lessons from that."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.