The Working Group on Smallmouth Bass Eradication in the Miramichi has long been working to address this issue with a product containing rotenone. Conservationists have also raised concerns about the threat smallmouths pose to dwindling salmon populations.
For two consecutive years, the project has been halted by last-minute opposition from cottage owners and Indigenous people and groups. It was paused again in recent days, pending litigation from cottagers who have requested an injunction to stop the project.
The bass were believed to have been illegally introduced to Miramichi Lake around 2008. They were held by a barrier before some escaped through Lake Brook and reached the Southwest Miramichi River in 2019.
Previous attempts to contain and remove the smallmouths through angling and electrofishing weren’t effective. Recreational fishing for salmon and other native species also forms the backbone of the local economy.
The rotenone plan was developed in consultation with cottage owners on the lake and followed broad, Crown-led talks with Indigenous communities. It also went through a lengthy regulatory approval process and required dozens of permits.
Measures are in place to neutralize the piscicide downstream once it’s applied and mitigate concerns about its impact on the watershed, such as non-target fish being moved below the treatment area and a barrier being installed to keep fish from entering it.
We believe the working group should be allowed to treat the lake, brook and river to remove the smallmouths before they gain a foothold in the watershed.