One week after the discovery of dead fishes at Baytown, near the Roseau river mouth, causing a foul odour and attracting numerous birds, the Fisheries Division has disclosed that similar dead fishes are showing up at Rodney’s Rock and Point Round in the north.
Fisheries officials have disclosed that one percent of the sprats population has been affected and that percentage is expected to decline over the next few days.
But for Hudson Toussaint, a fisherman for over forty years in Baytown, the damage has already been done.
He told DNO on Thursday that Baytown fishermen are being disadvantaged by the significant loss of sprats and titiwi and both “big and small” fishermen are grappling with their financial loss.
“All the bait disappear now I not going an fish. Two days I fish, I cannot fish more. Sometimes when the titiwi come, I fishing for two weeks or a week and a half…I satisfying with what I make. That is a rich fishing you know, it worth it. Right now, the titiwi hardly coming because of that old water there,” he pointed out.
This fish kill is being blamed on the toxic waste water from a nearby DOWASCO treatment plant.
Toussaint said he has been sounding the call for a long time now.
“I talk about that already. I inform the fisheries officer many times about that is not his year neither last year…imagine me that force the Fisheries Officer to come there,” he said.
According to him, they are a fishing community and gave a full account of what he saw.
“Fishing we doing here and one of our main fishing is titiwi, and Thursday the Titiwi come in Thursday, then Friday we fish Friday but we were holding our bait on the market side. Saturday, we hold bait on that side but the bait cannot stay on that side the water too deep so they have to cross the next side (Baytown side),” Toussaint explained.
I witness all the titiwi leave come on that side and from time it pass in the dirty water, we go and look for it up there we doh see nothing, nothing, nothing,” he recounted.
“When I come out and fish Sunday as I reach ashore I see the sprats up in the air as though they dying. So I asking them fellas what happening there? Them man tell me the fish just there dying so I put my boat ashore there and I come there and the whole coast there white all in the river,” according to Toussaint.
He said when he started complaining, the company stopped the flow of water some time Monday.
“But the damage have been done already…me urself I pass in the water. The water was scratching all my feet as though is acid that was in the water…so is them that cause that they cannot say is not them,” Toussaint maintained.
Toussaint is calling for better disposal of waste from the DOWASCO plant in the area and a proper investigation by the authorities.
Other Baytown residents point to the irony of the eating frenzy of the large number of birds that has flocked to the area while they (residents) are left without.
Environmental health Officials have told DNO that that an investigation is being conducted into the fish kill.
Meantime DOWASCO has denied that toxic waste from the company’s treatment plant is responsible for the death of these fishes contrary to suggestions the chief fisheries officer that the cause of death could have been due to low oxygen levels in the river following an alleged discharge from the DOWASCO treatment plant at Bay town into the Roseau River.
In a release issued Wednesday, the company rejected any blame for the death of the fishes.
“We are of the opinion that DOWASCO’s operations are not to be blamed for the death of the fishes in the absence of the results of a Bio Chemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) test especially as DOWASCO’s treatment plant has not experienced any mishaps in operation during the time suggested by the Chief Fisheries Officer,” the release stated
The company urged a very responsible handling of this ‘unfortunate’ situation and said it “remains willing to cooperate fully with any further investigations to determine the cause of death of the fishes surfacing in the Bay Town area.”