The Yellow Fish Road program is a nation-wide environmental education initiative launched by Trout Unlimited Canada in 1991.
Thousands of Canadian youth have participated in the Yellow Fish Road program to learn about their water supply and the impact their community has on clean water. Participants remind their community of the importance of clean water and properly disposing of hazardous wastes by painting yellow fish near storm drains and distributing fish-shaped brochures.
Since the program's inception in 1991 Youth Groups all over Canada have:
- distributed 1 million fish hangers
- marked 100,000 storm drains across the country
- with 60,000 volunteers participating
Yellow Fish Road™ is effective because children reinforce the knowledge they have gained by taking action to help ensure clean water in their community. Yellow Fish Road has been initiated internationally – including countries like the US, Australia and Scotland.
What is a Storm Drain?
Stormwater is the water from rainstorms or melting snow that drains into catch basins or storm drains. Storm drains or catch basins are located along the edges of roadways. Rainwater is collected by the storm drains and flows in an underground pipe system exiting via an outfall into local creeks, streams, rivers or lakes. Water flowing over lawns, driveways, gardens, roadways and sidewalks picks up debris and flows untreated into the storm drains.
Why is Yellow Fish Road important?
In most municipalities, water and materials entering storm drains do not get filtered at a water treatment plant before entering our streams and rivers. Unlike the drains in our sinks and toilets, stormwater drains directly into the local waterbody.
Here’s How it Flows:
- Non-point source pollution is pollution spread over a large area, like storm water runoff. This type of pollution is hard to trace and is the largest contributor to urban water pollution.
- Hazardous materials, such as pesticides, soap, motor oil and fertilizers that enter storm drains will end up in our streams and rivers. This can create an unhealthy environment for aquatic animals, such as fish.
- Hazardous household wastes can also affect water quality and result in unsafe drinking water in our homes.
Why Yellow Fish Road?
Fish, and in particular trout, are a remarkable indicator species. Trout can act as the “canaries in the coal mine”. Once trout are unable to frequent an area, it is an indicator that the water in that area is unsafe for human use.
How does the program work?
The Yellow Fish Road program is a fun, participatory way to teach the importance of clean water and to demonstrate how decisions made by one person can make a difference to a whole community. The program has two components:
- Learning: participants find their local water supply then explore how hazardous wastes can find their way into this water source.
- Action: participants “make a difference” by painting yellow fish near storm drains to serve as a reminder that any materials entering the storm drain affect our water sources. Participants also distribute “fish hangers” on doors in the neighbourhood to educate the community about their actions and the rationale behind Yellow Fish Road™.
The impact of this program can be enormous. If the Yellow Fish Road™ prevents one person from pouring a litre of paint down a storm drain this directly benefits the community’s water source for drinking water, commerce, and recreation. It also provides tremendous benefits to animal and aquatic species who use the river for food, shelter and reproductive purposes.
Choose a neighbourhood along with possible dates for painting and contact the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority. The NPCA coordinates the Yellow Fish Road™ program on behalf of its partners, the Cities of Welland, St. Catharines, Thorold, Niagara Falls, Port Colborne, the Towns of Pelham, Lincoln, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Grimsby and Fort Erie, the Townships of West Lincoln and Wainfleet and the Regional Municipality of Niagara. The NPCA will provide further information, equipment and advice on how to organize your Yellow Fish Road day.