Committee makes recommendations to avoid fish kills

Ryan Ross
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A committee that was struck to help stop fish kills wants the government to buy land from farmers to help keep runoff out of waterways.

Shawn Hill, executive director, P.E.I. Watershed Alliance, Dale Cameron, Trout Unlimited, and David Thompson, Croplife Canada, chat in this Guardian file photo.

That was one of three main recommendations from the Action Committee for Sustainable Land Management that was established after a 2012 fish kill in Barclay Brook in western Prince Edward Island.

John Jamieson, the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture's executive director who was also on the committee, was pleased with the recommendations.

"I think they're good," he said.

The committee's report, which was released in November, made 18 recommendations, including three that it considered key to future success of any farm management strategies near watersheds.

Those recommendations involved the need to implement soil conservation practices in fields next to watercourses and to have agricultural engineers examine fields as soon as possible after fish kills.

A third key recommendation called for the government to establish a $200,000 per year environmental impact fund to buy agricultural land along watercourses to take them out of production.

Jamieson said he expects most farmers will support that idea.

"I don't see any push back on any of the recommendations really from the farm community," he said.

But as for whether or not the government will move forward with any of the recommendations is still up in the air with Environment Minister Janice Sherry saying it's too early to say.

Sherry said there is a meeting planned for the end of March, which will include Agriculture Minister George Webster and various departmental officials to discuss the report, but she didn't know what would come of out of it.

"I would say it would be very premature for me to even venture a guess on that," she said.

What she did say was that a fund to buy agricultural land likely won't be included in the budget this spring.

"I would say that it would not be considered in this year's budget," she said.

Sherry said there were good things in the report, but the question is how the government moves forward with the recommendations.

"I think people are ready to roll up their sleeves and I think the recommendations are all within an acceptable range really," she said.

Jamieson said even though the committee has made its recommendations, the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture and the P.E.I. Potato Board are ready to keep pushing to make sure some of the changes are implemented.

"I think we continue to play an active role in seeing that these recommendations are moved forward," he said.

The Guardian

Organizations: P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture, Action Committee for Sustainable Land Management, P.E.I. Potato Board

Geographic location: Barclay Brook, Prince Edward Island

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