Government workers and members of Roseville-Miminegash Watershed Inc. are cleaning Little Miminegash River in Roseville, today after a fish kill was reported yesterday. Roseville is in West Prince, west of Alberton.

P.E.I.'s freshwater fisheries biologist Rosie MacFarlane said she and other workers picked up about 75 fish yesterday.

"There's considerably more than that. We won't know until we get the final count today," said MacFarlane.

Determining extent of kill

Federal and provincial workers will test water, soil, and fish samples to try to find out the cause of the kill.

MacFarlane said her job is to survey the area, and determine the extent of the fish kill, including the number and type of fish affected.

She said yesterday she came across brook trout, sticklebacks, and a gaspereau. She said the kill appears to span a roughly 3.5 km stretch of Little Miminegash River.

Dead fish

Some of the dead fish that were collected at the Roseville watershed site. (Submitted by Danny Murphy)

Starting to rot

MacFarlane said the fish were discovered yesterday morning by the coordinator of Roseville-Miminegash Watershed Inc. She said the fish look like they had been dead for a while.

'We're seeing a lot of body parts. Just heads, skeletons remaining for many of the fish.' - Rosie Macfarlane

"So it's, it makes it a little more difficult, because they are starting to rot. And they look like they've been dead for four or five days," said MacFarlane.  

"The fish that are there are the ones that are left. There's been a lot of scavenging going on by raccoons, eagles, ospreys, and all kinds of things around the area," said MacFarlane. "So, we're seeing a lot of body parts. Just heads, skeletons remaining for many of the fish. So the numbers are not going to reflect how many fish were actually killed. It'll just be how many have remained to this point."

MacFarlane said it's typical with fish kills to only see a small fraction of the total. "Usually, if you're getting 10 per cent you're doing well, after a fish kill."

Impact on river

MacFarlane wouldn't say whether she would consider this a large fish kill, saying she doesn't "like to put a label on them, because every river is different."

She also said she'll have a better idea of the impact once the cleanup is finished.

She said a fish kill can impact a river for a few years.

"It affects all the fish from zero plus, which is the ones that have just hatched out this spring, right up to the biggest one we picked up yesterday I think was 18 inches. So it can take out a lot of fish and it can seriously affect spawning this coming fall," said MacFarlane.