New Brunswick

Illegal pesticide use probed in 4 N.B. sites

Environment Canada has launched four active investigations into the alleged illegal use of the pesticide cypermethrin in the Bay of Fundy.

Environment Canada has launched four active investigations into the alleged illegal use of the pesticide Cypermethrin in the Bay of Fundy.

Last fall, federal government investigators found the chemical cypermethrin present in weak and dying lobsters in the Bay of Fundy.

Now, further inspections done over the past few months have turned up detectable levels of cypermethrin at two other aquaculture sites in southwest New Brunswick.

The chemical is illegal for marine use in Canada, but it's used in other countries to combat sea lice.

The initial discovery of lobster kills in the Grand Manan and Deer Island areas late last year launched two investigations that are still ongoing.

Ever since, Environment Canada officials have been monitoring the Bay of Fundy through routine inspections and sample collections.

Between May and July, they found levels of cypermethrin in certain fish farms in Charlotte Country, which led to two new investigations into its alleged use.

Robert Robichaud, a district manager with the department's environmental enforcement branch, said government officials have issued a legal document known as "inspector's directions" to the two companies that own the affected sites.

"Those directions are quite specific by nature. And what they require is the immediate cease to use any illegal chemicals — in this case cypermethrin — and to prevent it from being used in the future," Robichaud said.

The companies are Northern Harvest Sea Farms and Ocean Legacy, both are based in L'Etang, N.B.

Neither company returned calls for an interview.

Concerns raised

Maria Recchia, an official with the Fundy North Fishermen's Association, said she's concerned by the latest results.

"We know it's toxic to all crustaceans and that's a problem not only for our fisheries but for the environment," Recchia said.

No charges have been laid to date and the investigations continue.

Robichaud said a violation of the inspector's directions can result in a $200,000 fine.

This isn't the first time the pesticide has been found in the Bay of Fundy.

In 1996, about 50,000 lobsters were found dead in a pound near St. George.

Tests revealed they were exposed to cypermethrin.

Many people at the time blamed the aquaculture industries in the area for the pesticide getting into the water.