In the beginning of the week, a number of Canadian newspapers and news websites reported on large scale fish kills in Prince Edward Island. Dead fish were first discovered in the Trout and Big Pierre Jacques Rivers. Pesticide runoff was suspected as the cause, because late July is the time of year that PEI farmers apply pesticides each week to riverside crops. Last summer there was a kill of trout and other fish along the Montrose river directly after heavy rainfalls and A fish kill in 2007 was thought to be probably caused by pesticides.
This 2011 fish kill is thought to be the worst since 1972 when chemical dumping in the West River caused a far reaching fish kill. The 2011 kills have now been called catastrophic having affected two of the ten salmon-spawning rivers on the island and the rivers will take years for the fish populations and ecosystems to recover.
Currently the province has a mandatory buffer zone between fields and rivers of 15 meters. A toxicologist with the Canadian Rivers Institute named Mike Van den Heuvel was quoted as saying that the buffer zone must be larger and the government must more actively enforce these restrictions to prevent any future fishkills.
The Environment minister has discussed altering the buffer zone laws to accommodate areas of high risk, however the Green Party Leader, Sharon Labchuk insisted that this was not enough, because the pesticides harm people as well as wildlife. It is in the interest of PEI's economy to curb pesticide use as well. The Trout River had a dense population of brook trout attracting people from around PEI to fish there.
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