An oil spill near the Red Deer River has prompted the province to restrict fish consumption in west central Alberta.
Anglers fishing upstream of Dickson Dam on the Red Deer River and its tributaries are only allowed to catch-and-release for the remainder of the season.
The province is testing the fish population to determine what impact a pipeline spill just north of Sundre in early June is having on stocks.
A pipeline owned by Plains Midstream Canada leaked to 3,000 barrels of light sour crude oil released into Jackson Creek, a tributary of the Red Deer River near Sundre, Alta.
The catch-and-release restriction extends to an area including the main stem of the Red Deer River upstream of Dickson Dam (including Gleniffer Lake and Dickson Trout Pond) to the Banff National Park boundary, and all flowing tributary waters.
Harvest is still permitted from Burnstick Lake and several stocked trout lakes and ponds in the area.
Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development staff will assess fish populations and aquatic ecosystem health through sampling and monitoring programs.
Initial efforts also focus on analyzing fish tissue for potential contaminants; longer term monitoring will determine what, if any, changes to fish biology, ecology or physiology may have occurred as a result of the spill.
The new regulations are in effect starting Aug. 7 and will be in place for at least the remainder of the 2012-13 fishing season to gather sufficient data.