Original Published on Sep 18, 2022 at 15:41
By Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
An Indigenous organization battling to stop the bass-eradication project at Miramichi Lake, near Napadogan, N.B., believes it may have ended any further treatment of the waters with Noxfish II, with fish-killing agent rotenone, for now.
The River Valley Sun received a copy of the motion to come before the Court of King’s Bench in Woodstock on Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 10 a.m.
Lawyer Charles Bryant filed a preliminary motion on behalf of Andrea Polchies, a Woodstock First Nation councillor and a leader of the Indigenous environmental group Connecting to the Land, on Friday, Sept. 16.
The court action, with the North Shore Micmac District Council (NSMDC), Inc. as respondent, requests the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Minister of the New Brunswick Environment and Local Government suspend the authorizations providing regulatory approval of the project.
The NSMDC is part of a Working Group, which includes the Atlantic Salmon Federation and others, carrying out the federal and provincial government-sanction project.
The court documents allege numerous violations of provincial and federal approval conditions.
Polchies said the Working Group verbally agreed to stop further treatment of the lake this year but has not yet formally signed an agreement.
Polchies is cautiously optimistic about the news, but she wants confirmation the agreement is signed before she and the others who remained on the lake since early August are prepared to pack up and go home.
“I was happy that I finally get to go home to my community and family,” Polchies told the River Valley Sun. “I’m not 100 per cent sure, so I’ll wait until (lawyer) Charles (Bryant) tells me the paperwork has been all signed.”
Only then, she said, would she leave the lake.
Neville Crabbe, a spokesperson for the Working Group, has not yet responded to the River Valley Sun’s request for confirmation of the agreement.
The latest legal action follows the treatment of Lake Brook and the 15-kilometre Southwest Miramichi River on Sept. 8.
The Indigenous groups protecting the lake and surrounding watershed attempted to stop the treatment, leading to protester Wayne Narvey’s arrest and exposure to the toxin.
Narvey shut off the flow of Noxfish II and carried the container back to the protesters’ campsite, where Public Safety officers arrested him.
The treatment of Lake Brook and the river continued that day, leading to several dead fish appearing shortly after.
The several violations cited on the document Bryant filed with the Court of King’s Bench noted the project conditions call for the treatment of the entire area, with a second treatment of only Lake Brook and 15 kilometres of the river approximately 30 days later.
The conditions also explained the project could not extend beyond Sept 30. The project’s opponents point out that the Working Group carried out Phase 2 of the project first on Sept 8 and did not leave time to do the second treatment before the Sept. 30 deadline.