Retired PEI Farmer Fined $70,000 for Fish Kill 3 Years Ago


Warren Ellis fined $70,000 after Prince County fish kill

Ellis also fined $2,200 after pleading guilty to a violation of the Crop Rotation Act

CBC News Posted: Oct 30, 2014 8:04 PM AT

A retired Prince Edward Island potato farmer was ordered Thursday to pay more than $70,000 in connection with a fish kill three years ago in a Prince County waterway.

Warren Ellis pleaded guilty to one count under the Federal Fisheries Act, of releasing a harmful substance into a watercourse. In this case, it was pesticides released into Barclay Brook, a tributary of the Trout River and one of the best trout and salmon rivers in the province.

Federal prosecutor Paul Adams told Summerside court Thursday fish kills are a major problem on P.E.I. and it's time to warn other farmers they will be held responsible too, if they're not vigilant.

The 60-year-old Ellis sat quietly in court beside his lawyer during sentencing.

Pesticides described as "highly toxic"

Adams told court the fish kill was entirely preventable and described the pesticides used by Ellis as "highly toxic”.

Although the damage done was not intentional, Adams said that wasn’t the point.

According to Adams, the $70,000 penalty -- a joint recommendation with the defence -- sends a clear signal that farmers must be vigilant.

Defence lawyers told court that area has a long history of fish kills and Ellis applied the pesticide according to directions in response to a provincial advisory to spray for blight. The defence explained the rainfall that followed was unusually heavy.

Ellis pleaded guilty to a charge in connection with a fish kill in the Trout River in 2011. In that case, Thousands of mature fish died in the river, and traces of pesticide were found in samples taken from the river.

The defence told court Thursday that Ellis was sincerely sorry.

He was also fined $2,200 after pleading guilty to a violation of the Crop Rotation Act. Other charges against him and his company, Warren Ellis Produce Inc. were either stayed or dropped.

Most of the $70,000 fine will go to local conservation efforts and groups, including the Atlantic Salmon Federation and the Scales Pond-Dunk River Restoration Committee.