Government buys land to stop fish kills

The P.E.I. government has teamed up with Cavendish Farms to buy 39 hectares of farmland around the sensitive Barclay Brook fish habitat system in West Prince.

Buying sensitive land recommended by sustainable land use committee

The P.E.I. government has teamed up with Cavendish Farms to buy 39 hectares of farmland around the sensitive Barclay Brook fish habitat system in West Prince.

Cavendish Farms president Robert Irving says his company and the farmers it works with are committed to farming sustainably and putting an end to fish kills. (CBC)

The stream has been the site of at least two fish kills in the last couple of years. Together, the government and Cavendish Farms will  spend $250,000 to buy up the farmland and take it out of agricultural production.

Cavendish Farm president Robert Irving was in West Prince for the announcement, which was held at the David Bigger Memorial Interpretative Centre, which explores and explains the Barclay Brook and Trout River systems.

"We want to protect the environment," said Irving.

"We know there has been fish kills here at Barclay Brook and we felt that by buying this land and restoring it just for the people to enjoy. It's the right thing to eliminate these fish kills."

Premier Robert Ghiz said it was time to take extreme measures to stop fish kills in the area.

"You might as well do something right," said Ghiz.

"I don't think anybody's happy. You talk to the farmers up in this area of the province and they're not happy with fish kills. As a government we're not happy with fish kills. Cavendish Farms is not happy with fish kills."

Regulations not sufficient

The potato fields were the source of runoffs in 2012 that killed thousands of trout, and gave the potato industry a public relations nightmare.

The P.E.I. government may buy up other farmland if that's necessary to stop fish kills, says Premier Robert Ghiz. (CBC)

"There was a reoccurrence happening, so obviously this was land that no matter what regulations we put in there seemed to be problems with it," said Ghiz.

Irving said his companies and its potato growers are trying to farm sustainably.

"We do have some policies and the right procedures in managing the land and we ask our growers to follow those procedures and if they don't then they will not be doing business with us," said Irving.

Buying up agricultural land and taking it out of production was one recommendation of a recent action committee on sustainable land management.

"We're going to look for areas where, irregardless of what the rules and regulations are, where there could be fish kills taking place, and then we'll step in," said Ghiz.

There is currently no fishing allowed in the Barclay Brook, but locals say the fish are coming back and they are hopeful buying up this land will make a difference in protecting the river.


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