The recent devastating fish kills in western Prince Edward Island have proven to be some of the worst in Island history. The PEI Watershed Alliance describes events such as these as something that should be of the past. Fish kills of this magnitude in any watershed and especially watersheds with extremely healthy fish stocks are intolerable.Alliance Chairperson, Fred Cheverie notes “While the exact cause of the recent fish kills remains unknown, pesticide runoff from local fields is suspected. The streams involved in the fish kills offered optimal temperatures for fish habitat and were teeming with aquatic life which suddenly disappeared as a result of a combination of torrential rain and agricultural operations with little safe guarding against soil erosion. Recent scientific research indicates that we will be experiencing more frequent severe weather events; therefore, it is now time for us as stewards of our land and streams to adapt our practices to the changing climate. We simply cannot keep blaming the weather for devastating events like this.”
“Soil erosion remains a very serious issue on PEI, and when agricultural soil enters streams following heavy rainfall events, it can carry agricultural chemicals with it. We [PEI Watershed Alliance] applaud the many agricultural producers who have made significant inroads in changing their practices to help prevent agricultural soils from ending up in our streams. However, the problems surrounding soil conservation cannot be solved by only some producers practicing innovative techniques; agricultural producers all across PEImust adopt new methods to prevent soil erosion,” notes Cheverie.
According to Alliance Vice-Chair, Mark Bishop, “Agriculture remains the single most important industry in the Province. Streams and farms can coexist well as producers on PEI have proven this. The timing of these recent events could not be worse given the fact that there have been substantial positive conservation efforts made by many PEI producers over the last decade.”
“In the most recent fish kills, the Trout River(Coleman),Mill River and Big Pierre Jacques were hit hard and will take years to recover. The Mill and Trout Rivers were second to none on Prince Edward Island in terms of their contributions to sport fishing. The video footage of the dead brook trout shows what PEI streams are capable of producing. And to make matters worse, the Mill and Trout River were also among the few wild Atlantic salmon bearing streams left on PEI. With these recent events, the continued presence of wild Atlantic salmon in Western Prince Edward Island is unlikely.”
“While these events are certainly a huge setback for the Prince Edward Island, we need to ensure the public is aware of all of the good work agricultural producers and watershed groups are doing across the Province to enhance and conserve our environment. Cooperation from all sectors is imperative if we are to continue to move forward in addressing these issues,” notes Bishop.
For more information, contact Shawn Hill, Program Director, at 836-8916 or 394-1472.
The PEI Watershed Alliance represents twenty- four community based watershed groups across Prince Edward Island. The overall goal of the PEI Watershed Alliance is to enhance the capacity of Island watershed groups to improve and protect the environmental quality of Prince Edward Island watersheds, to promote cooperation among members, and to provide a strong, united voice in addressing Island-wide watershed issues.