Hundreds of dead fish have washed up on the shores of several Alberta lakes and a new aeration method is to blame.
Due to low oxygen levels in the water over the winter, hundreds, if not thousands, of fish have died at many lakes including, Fiesta Lake, Millers Lake, and Muir Lake,
Other lakes that experienced significant or partial winterkill are Beaver Lake, Mitchell Lake, and Ironside Lake.
East Dollar Lake is also expected to be impacted by a significant winterkill, but no formal assessment can be completed to quantify the loss.
There was also a significant drop in oxygen levels at Jackfish Lake, which has led to the lake becoming a catch-and-release site to protect the surviving fish.
In many cases, oxygen is pumped into the lakes to keep fish alive through the winter, but last fall, the government changed the way it aerates several lakes in Alberta.
“This is certainly unfortunate and the department will now be taking steps to ensure that this doesn’t happen again,” Environment Minister Shannon Phillips said.
The government can’t go back to doing things the old way, though. The previous method left a hole in the ice and last fall, the government learned it could be held liable if someone were to fall through the ice and drown.
Under a section of the Criminal Code, if a person were to fall in and die, the person or company that cut the hole could be found guilty of manslaughter.
Those who fish the lake, and those who rely on the anglers for business, are worried about what the next few years will hold.
All of the lakes will be restocked with trout but anglers shouldn’t expect to see any large fish in the lakes for several years.
The province said it is working to ensure the aeration program is fully operation by the winter of 2016/17.