Dr. Carol-Anne Gillis
Meet Dr. Carol-Anne Gillis, a member of our Scientific Advisory Committee
Dr. Carol-Anne Gillis came by her salmon conservation ethic bona fides honestly. Born into a Restigouche community she naturally became associated with the angling industry on the river at various times a manager, a guide, a cook and a cleaner.
Her formal education saw her just naturally move into biology with the river as her main focus.
When she moved forward into masters and PhD studies her applied research saw her explore the impact of didymo. This is an aquatic growth that causes severe environmental degradation in water courses where it blooms, producing large quantities of a brown jelly-like material called “brown snot” or “rock snot”. Dydimo is native to Europe but is an invasive species both in New Zealand (where it has ruined a number of important fisheries), south America, and in parts of North America—including the Restigouche. It is commonly spread on anglers’ boots. At one point the Restigouche situation was worse than New Zealand, but severe Canadian winter temperatures have, however, tempered the infections.
Carol-Anne morphed as well into a serious salmon angler before transitioning into conservation work. The Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation has supported her activities for a number of years.
She says her eventual direct involvement in the Gespe’gewaq Mi’gmaq Resource Council taught her a great deal and she found herself extremely sympathetic to indigenous causes.
Despite worrisome downward trends in salmon populations worldwide, she remains optimistic that relevant research, applied to constantly improving watersheds, will eventually win the day. “There’s an army of volunteers and scientists out there where the passion remains strong.”
But she worries that there is a dearth of young people joining the ranks of those passionate conservationists willing to step up. “We need young recruits in next decade.”