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Kent County chapter calls for action on dead herring crisis

The Council of Canadians Kent County chapter is calling on federal Fisheries minister Domenic LeBlanc, Nova Scotia premier Stephen McNeil and New Brunswick premier Brian Gallant to address the issue of herring die-offs.

The Canadian Press reports, “Tens of thousands of dead herring keep washing ashore along Nova Scotia’s western coastline, a mystery for biologists trying to figure out what is killing the small, silvery fish. Herring are known as a forage fish, which means their large schools play an important roll in feeding whales, seabirds, seals and larger fish, such as cod. …Retired veterinary pathologist [Ted Leighton] has compiled more than 40 sightings of dead herring since late November, to shed light on an ecological puzzle that has stumped the scientific community. The herring deaths were cause enough for concern, Leighton said, but now that new species have surfaced dead on a beach in Digby County [including starfish, clams, lobsters and mussels].”

A petition launched by chapter activist Ann Pohl says, “We petition Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Minister Dominic LeBlanc, Premier McNeil and Premier Gallant to call a joint public conference with concerned citizens and the media, to provide updates regarding the herring die-offs, and to indicate steps that will be taken immediately to improve transparency, collaboration, reporting, and resourcing between citizens and frontline DFO staff.”

That petition highlights, “What is killing the herring? The potential sources are many, and include parasites, viral and bacterial pathogens, domestic pollution, fracking wastes, industrial dumping of highly toxic black liquor, radionuclide releases, agricultural sprays, forestry sprays, ocean warming, acidification, forage species reduction, ship bilge releases, a newly installed tidal energy turbine, and many other possibilities. Is it land-based, sea-based, or related to industrial activities somewhere around the Bay? …Please join us in urging a new approach to the management of our ocean resources that actively involves the responsible authorities AND the public at large.”

The petition specifically demands:

  • Immediately create a publicized open website where concerned citizens can post abnormal marine events in real time. The website must also provide continuing updates of test results as and when they are available, protocols followed, background information, etc.

  • A voice hot line is essential for the people in our rural areas who do not use computers regularly.

  • Water tests, exploratory dives and other crucial investigatory steps must not be ignored due to lack of personnel or funds. DFO needs proper resources. As well, in many instances, problems could be resolved by DFO working closely with volunteer retired professionals, divers and fishers.

Two weeks ago, Pohl noted, “Darren Porter, a local weir fisherman, is an informed advocate for the health of the Fundy, Minas Basin and Cobequid Bay. Porter is a founding member of the Fundy United Federation, 1 a think-tank of scientists, people with profound experiential knowledge, and allied organizations concerned about regional marine life conservation, protection of habitat and sustainable and traditional fisheries, and food sovereignty. …Porter estimates that well over 100,000 dead herring have beached on the eastern shore of the Bay of Fundy in the past three week. From what he has seen, it is pretty much all adults that are coming on the beaches dead or dying.”

To read Pohl’s article What’s Happening to the Humble Herring?, please click here.

To add your name to the petition, click here. It has been signed by 1,146 people so far, please help it get to 2,000 signatures.