PCFA raises nitrate issue

Minister said province, farmers want levels lowered

Eric McCarthy newsroom@journalpioneer.com
Published on January 10, 2017

Members of the Prince County Fishermen's Association listen to the organization's annual reports Monday in O'Leary. Members expressed concerns about the level of nitrates in the Northumberland Strait.

©Eric McCarthy/TC Media

O’LEARY – P.E.I. Fisheries and Agriculture Minister Alan McIsaac asked a staff member Monday to investigate a situation that was described to him during the annual meeting of the Prince County Fishermen’s Association.

Fishermen were pressing the minister for a separate deputy minister for fisheries, but McIsaac suggested agriculture and fisheries are a good match.

“Which way would you vote?” Dwayne Barlow called out. He questioned the minister about a report of high nitrate levels in the Northumberland Strait.

PCFA president Lee Knox had already advised that the PEIFA has engaged a UPEI professor to study the impacts of nitrates around the province. Knox pointed to data that indicates nitrate levels in the strait are five to six times higher than they should be and that 75 to 90 per cent of the nitrates come from P.E.I. Of that, he reviewed, 91 per cent comes from agriculture production.

Barlow wanted to know from the minister, if the issue were to come up in the legislature would he stand with the agriculture industry or the fishing industry.

McIsaac responded that much is being done to reduce nitrate loading, including taking land near streams out of production.

He said farmers do not want their fertilizers ending up in streams.

That’s when Eddie Fitzgerald told him of finding four pipes from a farmer’s field running right into a river.

“Can you give me names and places?” McIsaac started.
“I’ll take you there any time you want to go,” Fitzgerald responded before the minister finished his question.

After directing a staff member to get the coordinates McIsaac encouraged fishermen to report any such incidents.