Several groups have written letters of support, including the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax. The environmental group normally opposes pesticides but says in this case its use is “appropriate and necessary” to protect native trout and salmon.
“We recognize the clear and immediate threat to the entire St. Marys River system if this invasive species spills out of Piper Lake,” said EAC senior wilderness co-ordinator Ray Plourde, in a letter to Keith Colwell, the minister of fisheries and aquaculture.
Scott Beaver of the St. Mary’s River Association praises the province for its quick response once bass were detected.
Millions of dollars have been spent on habitat restoration and conservation efforts to maintain Atlantic salmon in the St. Marys River.
“What’s at stake literally will change the entire ecosystem. It may take many years, but literally the entire ecosystem, we could lose the entire population. Other systems have lost the entire population. All the work that we’ve done over the years with the salmon population,” says Beaver.
Kris Hunter of the Atlantic Salmon Federation is also on board.
“It seems like an oxymoron to say that to help fish, you’re going to kill fish,” says Hunter.
“It’s not something you entertain lightly or easily. There’s a lot of healthy debate and science that goes into making that decision. We view this as sort of a preventative conservation effort that you’re not just doing what’s good for now, but you’re doing what’s going to be good for the long-term health and future of the system.”
The federation is supporting the use of rotenone in New Brunswick on a 15–kilometre section of the Miramichi River and to Miramichi Lake. The project is on hold after the province’s environment minister decided it must first undergo an environmental impact assessment.
LeBlanc says after the application is used, he expects native fish species will naturally repopulate the lake over time. Annual monitoring will be conducted to assess recolonization of native species and restocking will occur if required.