The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

More than 1,000 dead fish found in Prince Edward Island's North River

  • Print

CHARLOTTETOWN - For the fourth time in four years, the Prince Edward Island government says it's investigating a significant fish kill in one of its waterways.

Wade MacKinnon, manager of enforcement with the province's Environment, Labour and Justice departments, said Monday the latest incident is disappointing for investigators.

"I'll be honest," he said in an interview. "It's getting disheartening year after year to continue returning to our Island rivers and seeing hundreds and thousands of dead fish."

By the end of the day Monday, volunteers from a local conservation group and staff from the province's Agriculture Department had collected about 1,150 brook trout, speckleback, rainbow trout and Atlantic salmon.

The dead fish were reported Saturday as they started to appear over a 3.8-kilometre stretch of the North River in central P.E.I.

Last year's fish kills were in western P.E.I. on the Trout and Mill Rivers. In July 2012, about 2,000 dead fish were scooped out of a three-kilometre stretch of Barclay Brook near Coleman, and there was a fish kill reported from the same area in 2011.

MacKinnon said there hasn't been a finding that pesticide runoff was the cause of the latest kill and further tests have to be done.

Investigators collected records from farms bordering the North River showing that pesticides were sprayed over the last two weeks, he said, adding a large downpour of rain fell during the middle of the week, with about 38 millimetres on Wednesday and Thursday.

Provincial land use regulations require a 15-metre buffer zone between streams and planted fields and there are also rules that prevent planting of row crops on slopes with a gradient of more than nine per cent.

MacKinnon said his department obtained between $14,000 and $17,000 in fines last year for violations of environmental and land-use laws relating to pesticides.

But he said heavier fines can be levied under a section of the federal Fisheries Act that prohibits depositing "deleterious substances" in waters inhabited by fish. The legislation allows for fines of between $15,000 and up to $1 million for an individual for a first offence, and between $500,000 and $6 million for a corporation.

MacKinnon said it's hard to prove the cases in court.

"It's extremely difficult to prove why the fish died, how they died and where (the pesticide) came from. We get tied up in court for years," he said.

NDP Leader Mike Redmond says the damage to tourism and the fishery is significant, but the province hasn't been firm enough in its approach.

Environment Department spokesman Wayne MacKinnon said there is a review of existing regulations on the use of pesticides.

He said a committee that includes the P.E.I. Potato Board, the farming industry and the provincial government is looking at measures to reduce pesticide runoffs.

"We've gone so far as to purchase one of the fields that was involved to take it out of production," he said, referring to last summer's incident in the Barclay Brook area.

— By Michael Tutton in Halifax.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


City Beautiful trailer: How architecture shaped Winnipeg's DNA

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A female Mallard duck leads a group of duckings on a morning swim through the reflections in the Assiniboine River at The Forks Monday.     (WAYNE GLOWACKI/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) Winnipeg Free Press  June 18 2012
  • Challenges of Life- Goose Goslings jump over railway tracks to catch up to their parents at the Canadian Pacific Railway terminalon Keewatin St in Winnipeg Thursday morning. The young goslings seem to normally hatch in the truck yard a few weeks before others in town- Standup photo- ( Day 4 of Bryksa’s 30 day goose project) - Apr 30, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Will you get out and vote for a new mayor and council?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google