PEI

DFO investigating after 2,500 fish dumped along Georgetown shore

Fisheries and Oceans officers are investigating after about 2,500 fish were dumped on the shore in Georgetown, P.E.I.

Fish may have been caught along with silverside during box net fishery

Fisheries officers are investigating after about 2,500 fish were found dumped on the shore at the end of Earl Power Road in Georgetown. (Submitted by Darlene Ulvstal)

Officers with Fisheries and Oceans Canada are investigating after about 2,500 fish were dumped on the shore in Georgetown, P.E.I.

The fish were noticed on Friday at the end of Earl Power Road in the town, leading to a complaint to DFO.

"Fish were not counted individually, but we estimate there were about 2,500 of them on the shore," a DFO spokesperson said in an email sent to CBC News Wednesday. 

"It is possible that the fish are bycatch from the silverside box net commercial fishery."

P.E.I. and Nova Scotia have the only commercial Atlantic silverside fisheries in Canada. The small fish resemble minnows, spawn in coastal ponds and rivers, and are usually fished from dories and frozen for use as bait and zoo food, according to the P.E.I. Flavours website. 

DFO says species including rainbow smelt, sand lance, stickleback and mummichog are supposed to be released back into the water if caught during the silverside box net fishery. (Submitted by Darlene Ulvstal)

"They are prey for many larger fish, birds and marine mammals and rarely live past 2 years," says a species description on the DFO website. 

The DFO spokesperson's email to CBC said, "Apart from green crab, all fish incidentally caught in the commercial silverside box net fishery must be released back into the water near the place where it was removed or fished and where it is alive, in a manner that causes it the least harm." 

Species that must be released if caught incidentally include rainbow smelt, sand lance, stickleback and mummichog, said DFO.

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