Fish passage: the process
The Maryland Fish Passage Program's purpose is to restore migratory species to at or near historic levels. There are four major program elements: remove or bypass blockages, reintroduce target species, bio-monitor and educate. The Program has become increasingly more complex since its inception. Much more is known technically than was known several years ago. Funding has become more difficult to obtain, and legal and policy issues are much more complicated that in the early days of the program. As larger blockage sites are remedied, the Program is increasingly turning its attention to smaller blockages, which are the focus of this workshop. Small blockages are far more numerous than the larger ones, and collectively, they close many more miles of historic spawning habitat to migratory fishes and other aquatic animals than do the larger blockages.
Currently, there are forty-four sites on the five year fish passage project priority list. The list is dynamic. There are additions and deletions as new information is learned about specific stream blockage structures and as funding levels change.
In order to consolidate and unify data related to the many blockages, a fish passage database containing nearly 1,000 blockage sites and 47 fields has been developed and is available upon request.
There are similar issues to contend with at privately owned blockage sites. On occasion it is even difficult to determine the ownership of a blockage. Individuals in Florida, Tennessee and California were contacted to find out who actually owns one priority site. Another site is owned by foreign investors who live in Hong Kong and were located in Australia.