Fishermen are furious a pesticide normally used for agriculture ended up in the Bay of Fundy (Nova Scotia) and may have contributed to the deaths of hundreds of lobsters.
Dead lobsters first appeared last November 2009 in Grand Manan's Seal Cove, and five days later a fisherman 50 kilometres away in Pocologan found more dead lobsters in his traps.
Soon after that discovery, another 816 kilograms of weak or dead lobster were discovered in Deer Island's Fairhaven Harbour.
"I've been around lobsters all my life. And I never seen lobsters in that state," said fisherman Reid Brown said.
Environment Canada has launched two investigations into the lobster kills on Grand Manan and Deer Island.
Tests found that the lobsters were exposed to Cypermethrin, a pesticide that's illegal to use in marine environments and toxic to lobsters.
Environment Canada found no evidence about how the pesticide got into the Bay of Fundy. There are few if any farms near the Fundy coast that could be a source for the Cypermethrin found in the bay.
Harvey Millar, a spokesman with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which has also been involved in parts of the investigation, said human health was never at risk, but any lobster kill is a concern.
"It's unusual to haul up and find everything dead in it. Again these are isolated areas, three areas, not everywhere, but where we did see it, definitely fish were affected," Millar said.
Initial findings significant
Environment Canada can't say how long its investigation will take, but Bay of Fundy fishermen want answers soon before they haul up traps and find more damage.
Maria Recchia, the coordinator of the Fundy North Fishermen's Association, said the initial Environment Canada findings are significant.
"There have been cases in the past that we've suspected chemical use. And this is the first time we have proof," Recchia said.
Dale Mitchell, a lobster fisherman, said he's worried about more lobster deaths.
"I'd just hate to see something come along, something new come along, and make our fishery go downhill," Mitchell said.
"Because without it I don't think Deer Island would survive, or Grand Manan, or this area of the Bay of Fundy, without the lobster fishery."