The provincial government needs to do more about excess nutrients in rivers that cause problems for fish and shellfish, says the head of a watershed group in western P.E.I.

John Lane, co-ordinator of the Cascumpec Bay Watershed Association, said his group has already noticed trouble in Meggison's Creek and Long Creek. The problem is serious, said Lane, and is likely to only get worse.

"The water had gone a milky white, a greenish milky white, and there was quite an odour coming from it," he said.

"There is quite a crop of sea lettuce in the Mill River area and what happens is it dies, and when it dies it starts rotting and it takes up the oxygen in the water."

The condition of no oxygen in the water is known as anoxia. Fish in the water can't breathe, and the trouble for shellfish is even worse. Rotting sea lettuce falls to the bottom and can cover them in a thick lane, leaving them unable to breathe or eat.

Lane said removing some of sea lettuce would have an impact, and land use practices need to improve to keep the nutrients, mostly nitrates from farm fertilizers and sewage, out of the water.

He said that's the provincial government's responsibility.

Provincial environment officials say anoxia is not unusual at the affected sites, and staff have not been sent to check them out. So far there are no reports of any associated fish kills.

Official noted there have been a number of measures introduced in recent years to reduce nitrate levels on P.E.I.

For mobile device users: Has the province done enough to reduce nutrient pollution in rivers and prevent anoxia?