DFO cuts make monitoring harder, say conservationists

Recent cuts to Fisheries and Oceans Canada will make it harder to monitor environmental issues on Prince Edward Island, says a watershed protection group.

Watershed group concerned cuts are hurting fish and fish habitat

Silt and suspended sediment can reduce the amount of oxygen in the water, suffocating organisms, says DFO. (CBC)

Recent cuts to Fisheries and Oceans Canada will make it harder to monitor environmental issues on Prince Edward Island, says a watershed protection group.

There used to be three habitat management biologists on Prince Edward Island, but the department eliminated those positions in the spring. The biologists were responsible for the protection and conservation of fish habitat.

Shawn Hill, executive director of the P.E.I. Watershed Alliance, said those concerns are at the forefront as heavy fall rains hit the Island.

“As far as we're concerned, there's no law in the books that prevents silt from being put into a waterway. We've heard some reports here last week about that and that concerns us,” he said.

“In the past, the Fisheries Act was a very powerful piece of legislation across Canada and equally on P.E.I. Now that status there in unknown and without the supporting DFO staff, were concerned that developments and other activities could seriously damage the environment on PEI and there's no one here to say much about it.”

There has been some concerns in recent weeks after heavy rains have caused silt to flow into waterways in the Bonshaw area near the controversial Plan B TransCanada Highway realignment.

Excessive silt in the water causes cloudiness that can result in harmful effects on fish and other aquatic wildlife, according to the Fisheries and Oceans Canada website.

Silt and suspended sediment can reduce the amount of oxygen in the water, suffocating organisms.

A spokesperson for Fisheries and Oceans Canada said biologists will be dispatched to P.E.I. from Moncton, N.B., when required.

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