Fish Kills Prompt Complaints of Government Inaction

Fish kills prompt complaints of government inaction
CBC News
Posted: Jul 30, 2013 7:49 PM AT

A third fish kill in as many years has some P.E.I. residents saying the government is acting too slowly to counter the problem.

The latest fish kill happened on the weekend at Trout River. Provincial officials have counted more than 200 dead trout and a dozen salmon. It's the third fish kill on the river in three years. The last two were caused by pesticide runoff washed into the river by heavy rain, according to the province.

The nearby Mill River also experienced a fish kill, with the first dead fish reported being washed up on Monday.

The investigation into the cause is ongoing, but already many are linking it to agricultural runoff.

Shawn Hill was a member of an action committee set up over a year ago by Agriculture Minister George Webster and Environment Minister Janice Sherry. The committee made 18 recommendations in November to avoid fish kills.

“It’s been a terrible weekend for everyone. I know some of the growers I talked to, they are very, very, disgusted that this has happened,” he said Tuesday.

Hill said government has been slow to act on the committee's recommendations.

“We would have liked to see quicker action on the report. We're a little disappointed how the report was released. The committee was created under great fanfare and with a press release and everything and then the report was quietly put on the website,” he said.

Hill said it hurts the island’s image. “People come here and play on our island and they hear another river has been hit with a fish kill and it certainly tarnishes our reputation.”

Making good progress

Barry Thompson was also on the committee. He is the government's manager of sustainable agriculture and believes progress is being made, despite the weekend fish kill.

“I'm quite pleased with our progress to be honest with you,” he said. “We're very concerned with it. It is very disappointing, but I have to admit the producers in the area have been very positive and very good to work with."

Darryl Guignion is a biologist with UPEI and has investigated many fish kills over the years.

“We have to have sound soil conservation practices on every farm on Prince Edward Island and that does just not occur, and recommendations are not followed,” he said.

Environment Minister Janice Sherry and Agriculture Minister George Webster would not comment on the fish kills, or about what action the government had taken to implement the 18 recommendations.