July 23, 2012
For immediate release
Action Committee to examine measures for fish-kill prevention
Environment, Labour and Justice
A new action committee representing government, farmers and watershed groups has been formed to develop measures to prevent future fish kills in Prince Edward Island’s waterways, Environment, Labour and Justice Minister Janice Sherry and Agriculture and Forestry Minister George Webster said Monday.
“Islanders want an end to fish kills in this province. In order to reduce the chance of future kills, we are asking people with expertise in land use, in agricultural practices and in water protection to look at our current protection measures and land use practices and to recommend ways they can be changed and strengthened to protect the water and wildlife resources that belong to all Islanders,” Minister Sherry said.
“We want to move forward quickly to reduce the chance of fish kills and, in order to act as soon as possible, we are asking the committee to come back with its recommendations by September 14.”
“This is a partnership of groups committed to a solution and to using Barclay Brook – where we have seen fish kills two years in a row – as a pilot for identifying problems and developing land use practices that will control the runoffs that lead to fish kills.”
The Action Committee has been asked to examine the current land management practices used to prevent runoff events that result in fish kills and to consider upland management practices as well as whether regulations need to be further strengthened.
“Preventing fish kills is a priority for all Islanders, especially the agricultural community,” said Minister Webster. “The Action Committee is an opportunity to build new relationships between government, farmers and watershed groups at a community level to work together on solutions. This committee will focus its efforts on developing a land management template for individual watersheds to prevent fish kills and protect the Island’s natural resources.”
“While current land management plans are protecting most of the land in Prince Edward Island, it’s clear that some areas are more vulnerable than others,” said Dale Cameron, member of Trout Unlimited Prince County Chapter. “This committee will look at watersheds as unique areas requiring their own individual land management plans.”
“The PEI Potato Board is very pleased to be part of developing a collaborative solution to protect our waterways,” said General Manager Greg Donald. “The agricultural community understands its responsibility to employ good land management and sustainable farming practices to protect our resources.”
As part of its work, the Action Committee will examine the recent fish kill at Barclay Brook to see why measures now in place were not able to prevent the recent fish kill.
Action Committee for Sustainable Land Management
Trout River Pilot, Prince County
Prince Edward Island has had another severe fish kill. While the frequency of fish kills has dropped since the peak years of 1999 and 2002, they continue to occur.
Buffer zones alone cannot be effective in addressing soil movement/runoff events that lead to stream and river pollution. Key to erosion control, and the associated contamination of rivers and streams, is a basket of sustainable land management (upland management) practices that include maintaining good soil structure, encouraging best cropping practice and instigating water control and drainage measures.
1. The Action Committee
An Action Committee for Sustainable Land Management is established by the Minister of Environment, Labour and Justice and the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry to examine the current land management practices used to prevent runoff events that result in fish kills. This will be carried out in a pilot scheme located in the Trout River watershed. The Action Committee is tasked with assessing best available options to reduce the adverse impacts from runoff events. The Action Committee will consider upland management practices as well as whether regulations need to be further strengthened. The value of incorporating alternative land use measures (ALUS program) – such as the incorporation of wider grass headlands – will also be examined.
The membership of the Action Committee is drawn from across government departments, producer and supplier organizations, and watershed groups:
Members: Bruce Raymond (Chair), Department of Environment, Labour and Justice; Barry Thompson, Department of Agriculture and Forestry; Shawn Hill, Executive Director, PEI Watershed Alliance; Dale Cameron, Trout Unlimited; Greg Donald, PEI Potato Board; John Jamieson, PEI Federation of Agriculture; David Thompson, CropLife Canada.
2. Examination of the Barclay Brook Fish Kills
The Action Committee will examine the recent fish kills at Barclay Brook to answer why current measures continue to fail to protect streams and rivers in some areas. The Action Committee will assess such potential contributory factors as pesticide usage, field topography (slope height and length), soil structure, soil conservation practices used, the status of the current buffer zone area flanking rivers and streams, the effectiveness of field headland areas in preventing runoff and the uptake by producers of the ALUS program.
It should be noted that the Investigation and Enforcement Section will continue to investigate this month’s Barclay Brook fish kill for potential non-compliance with existing legislation. The Action Committee work is separate and apart from that process.
3. Recommendations for Sustainable Land Management Practices in Barclay Brook of the Trout River Watershed
The Action Committee will evaluate current land management activities and undertake a review of sustainable land management options. The findings of the Action Committee will be used to make recommendations to government on the best land management practices including enhancement to BMP’s, extension of program measures (ALUS) and potential regulatory options available. To ensure intense rainfall events no longer adversely impact river and stream health, protocols established by the Action Committee will be examined with a view to their being applied across Prince Edward Island on a watershed basis.
The Action Committee will begin its work immediately, and report back to the Ministers no later than September 14, 2012.