Miramichi Lake bass-eradication project remains in flux

·2 min read

Miramichi Lake cottage owners withdrew their legal action on Wednesday, Aug. 17, cancelling a planned Court of Queen's Bench hearing. The court action was part of the ongoing battle surrounding the treatment of Miramichi Lake with a fish-killing agent.

Three cottage owners, Patricia (Trish) Foster, Kaitlyn (Katie) Harvey, and Daniel Houghton filed for an injunction on Aug. 2 to stop the treatment of the lake with Noxfish II.

A Working Group, including the North Shore Micmac Council, the Atlantic Salmon Federation and others, are planning to spray the lake, Lake Brook and the Southwest Branch of the Miramichi River with Noxfish II, containing rotenone, in an attempt to eradicate smallmouth bass.

ASF Executive Director of Communication Neville Crabbe said the cottage owners withdrew from the legal proceedings before Wednesday's hearing.

The cottage owners declined to comment about the cancelled hearing.

Andrea Polchies is part of the Wolastoqewi mothers and grandmothers and an Indigenous environmental organization called Connecting to the Land. They blocked the project last year by remaining on the lake and taking the Working Group to court.

They are back on the water and in court again this year.

The Court of Queen's Bench docket in Woodstock for Wednesday also included an application by Polchies and Terry Sappier against Fisheries and Oceans.

St. John-based lawyer, Charles Bryant, represented Indigenous mothers and grandmothers in court last year. He is doing the same this year.

When the River Valley Sun contacted Bryant early Wednesday afternoon, he said he could not provide details at that time but would later.

Polchies said the filing in Woodstock Court of Queen's Bench on Wednesday was to extend the cottager's extension against spraying until her group gets its day in court.

She said Bryant would file in federal court asking for a judicial review.

Polchies said he would try to file on Thursday.

The Working Group was scheduled to treat the lake on Aug. 9, but the Court of Queen Bench issued a cease and desist order until after the Aug. 17 hearing.

Crabbe said the injunction blocking its Aug. 9 plans forced the Working Group to dismiss more than 130 personnel, including some who travelled to New Brunswick from around the globe.

"We had to demobilize and store equipment, putting the entire project in jeopardy," Crabbe said in the statement.

Despite the ongoing legal actions, the Working Group believes it can move forward with the project.

He said the delay, however, forces the group to overcome significant challenges.

Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun