Cottagers on Lake Miramichi have been told chemical spraying to get rid of smallmouth bass will begin Wednesday.
An email was sent to cottagers by Neville Crabbe, spokesman for the Working Group on Smallmouth Bass Eradication in Miramichi.
“The smallmouth project has posted signs to begin on August 10,” the email said.
Movement in and out of the project area will be restricted, the email said, so “those wishing to leave are advised to do so.”
Crabbe, who is with the Atlantic Salmon Federation, did not respond to emails or phone calls requesting an interview about the details of the group’s plans.
The women once stopped the project
Salmon conservation groups are concerned that growing populations of smallmouth bass in Lake Miramichi, Lake Brook and a portion of the southwest Miramichi River are threatening Atlantic salmon as well as brook trout native to the water.
The spraying of the pesticide rotenone received official approval and was scheduled to take place last August, but grandmothers and mothers of the Wolastoki First Nations were concerned about the environmental impact. They started paddling on the lake, which prevented the splash
This year, the Smallmouth Bass Eradication Group said they were determined to spray this summer.
Women opposed to the rotenone spraying have said they intend to visit the lake again to stop it, but the women could not be reached Tuesday to discuss their plans.
Chief George Ginish of the Nattoganeg First Nation issued a statement on behalf of the North Shore Mi’kmaq District Council in support of chemical spraying of the watershed.
And in an interview with CBC News on Tuesday, he confirmed that the spraying attempt could happen as early as Wednesday.
He said it was disappointing that the project didn’t go ahead last year because there was a lot of work involved.
Asked about the opposition coming from Wolastocki’s mothers and grandmothers, Ginnish said there are people who believe “the treatment will have consequences beyond what is intended.”
But he said if the project is delayed, the watershed will be changed forever.
“The plan is that it’s going to be there, the permits have been issued, the work is all done and the people are in place,” he said. “And I know it would really frustrate them if it was interrupted or delayed.”
Ginnish acknowledged the cottage owners, who believed the spraying would interfere with their enjoyment of the lake, but said, “the issue is much bigger than that.”
Daniel Houghton, owner of Miramichi Lake Cottages, said enjoyment is only one factor in opposition to rotenone spraying. He fears “environmental destruction” and worries about the safety of his children.
Houghton said the shallow, sandy-bottom lake with no drop-offs or currents is the perfect place for her three children under 10 to play.
Worry about the dead fish lake
“Regardless of what analysis is done after the fact, I’m never going to be in the same state of mind that I’m in right now, where I know they’re OK to be able to get water,” he said.
She said it’s not just the rotenone she’s worried about, but the dead fish it will leave behind.
He said that the spraying task force has accepted Most fish killed by rotenone will stay below the surface.
He said the cottagers, including himself, hired a lawyer who filed the injunction on August 2. Houghton said a court date was set for Aug. 18 but he still received an email at 8:25 a.m. Tuesday saying the spraying would be done. the next day.
“They’re not even stopping for, you know, a legal action,” Houghton said.