Prince Edward County’s Newspaper of Record
July 24, 2024
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Letters June 12

<p>(Jed Tallo/GazetteStaff)</p>
(Jed Tallo/GazetteStaff)

Picton Bay at a Tipping Point

Re: Not a Drop to Drink (May 29). The editorial by Karen Valihora was very interesting on so many levels. The future of water in the County is a hot topic these days.  While the future is important, so is the here and now.  The health of the water in Picton Bay is at a tipping point and highly vulnerable to pollution and contamination.  The Water Treatment Plant in Wellington is still in the planning stages. It will be years before it serves the Picton area, if it ever does.

Regardless of where the PEC water-supply issue lands, keeping the water healthy in Picton Bay is of the utmost importance.  Many people who live on the Bay are not on town water and never will be. They draw their water directly from wells and the Bay.  In addition, Picton Bay is a large destination for tourists, sailors and boaters.  Contaminated water would shut this community down in a minute. 

My question is, where are the governmental organizations that oversee standards? How is it possible that Picton Terminals is now capable of accommodating any vessel with a depth of 11 meters when the depth off the dock at Picton Terminals is 9.44 meters according to their website.  When large vessels enter the Bay their prop wash will no doubt disturb the lake bottom and the contaminates that go with it. These contaminants are better left undisturbed.  

I guess the same holds that Picton Terminals advertises that it can accommodate container shipping and storage when in fact it has no approval to do so. Obviously there is a discrepancy between reality and wishful thinking, though Picton Terminals seems to have no qualms about its wishful thinking forcing the County to defend municipal authority over zoning and land use in the jurisdiction of the County.

No need to feel slighted that Picton Terminals did not extend an invitation to the Gazette. Interesting that the only invites were those that do not live or work in the County, besides the Fire Department, which I will get to later.  County residents do not need an invite as we see and hear Picton Terminals loud and clear every day, blasting, throwing rock into metal barges and polluting the night sky, without any regard for its neighbours.   

As noted, the County Fire Department was included in the invitation to welcome the huge ocean-going freighter, the Polestream Dabie, into our harbour. Our County firefighters deserve a lot of credit, but Prince Edward County Fire and Rescue can provide only shore-based marine firefighting.  I hate to imagine what the situation would look like if there were a fire on a ship in Picton Bay.  Not to mention a ship that stands 100 feet tall. Recently, there was a fire aboard a ship at Port Newark, the largest port on the east coast and the 3rd largest port in the U.S. Unfortunately, there were fatalities and the Coast Guard cited lack of training in the fatal ship fire. The preliminary report found that the Newark firefighters were ill-equipped and had little-to-no maritime firefighting training.  

Before we allow large marine vessels to enter Picton Bay, we need to consider the consequences.  

Leslie Stewart, President, The County Conservancy

Protecting the Eels

Re: Protection Required (April 24). Thank you to Jason Parks and the Picton Gazette for the excellent coverage of Council’s decision to support adding the American Eel to Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA). It is deeply encouraging to know that more PEC residents are being made aware of the important role this remarkable and ancient fish has played in providing for the inhabitants of our region for millennia.  

Even though County commercial fishers were able to harvest an average of 100 tons of eel annually from the mid 1960s to the mid 1990s, the eel’s depletion in Lake Ontario was not primarily caused by over fishing. The primary cause was the creation of hundreds of human-made barriers deeply diminishing migration to and from the Sargasso Sea, the principle ones being the Moses-Saunders and Beauharnois Hydro power generating stations in the St. Lawrence River. These monolithic barriers kill close to half of the egg-laden mature eels that must get beyond them to spawn by churning them up in their turbines. 

In response, Hydro Ontario has sponsored mitigations like Lake Ontario’s Trap and Transport program, which funds the capture of 7000 eels annually of a certain size and transports them upstream of the hydro facilities, providing a source of income to County commercial fishers who participate in the program. But after that, these same egg-laden eels, trucked hundreds of kilometers to safer waters, still have to evade the huge nets of the St. Lawrence River Quebec eel fishery.  

Adding the American Eel to Schedule 1 will shut down the Quebec eel fishery. It will also shut down the commercial glass eel/elver fishery in Canada’s eastern provinces, which harvests millions of immature eels on their migration to fresh waters to live out their adult lives. In times of catastrophe our species seeks to protect women and children because of the essential role they play in the continued survival of the community and the species itself. Adding the American Eel to Schedule 1 of SARA will do the same for the eels.

Amy Bodman, Prince Edward County

This text is from the Volume 194 No. 24 edition of The Picton Gazette
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