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Have your say about the future health of the Bay of Quinte

Three environmental challenges for the Bay of Quinte are set to be removed.

The Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan (BQRAP) Restoration Council announced Tuesday that after years of extensive scientific research three of the environmental challenges identified for the Bay of Quinte are ready to start the process of changing their status to “unimpaired”.

All 11 environmental challenges attributed to the Bay of Quinte have to undergo this process to have their status changed to unimpaired. When the process is complete, the Bay of Quinte can be taken off the Great Lakes Areas of Concern list. In 2016, the environmental challenges ‘Restrictions on dredging activities and fish tumours and other deformities’ were sent to the federal and provincial governments for formal acceptance of their status change.

The challenges related to fish populations and habitat and underwater bugs have all met the scientific criteria necessary to change their status, however, an integral part of the process is public consultation.

In the early 1990s the fish population was considered impaired due to the lack of species variety, overabundance of phosphorus and reduced water clarity hindering underwater plant growth.

Loss of fish and wildlife habitat was attributed to humans destroying natural shoreline habitat, leading to erosion problems and reduced habitat quality. Wetlands were also impacted by development and agriculture.

While a lot of work has been done to rehabilitate shorelines and wetlands, as development pressure increases, maintaining and restoring shorelines and wetlands will be critical to maintaining the health of the bay.

Today, notes Murphy, the Bay of Quinte is considered a world-class walleye and bass fishery with improved water clarity due to reduced phosphorus levels.

In the early 1990s, due to poor water quality, the benthos (underwater bugs) were degraded due to a lack of species variety The small creatures (aquatic insects, snails, clams and worms) live in the sediment on the bottom of lakes, rivers and streams.

“This is the public’s opportunity to provide input about decisions that will affect the future health of the Bay of Quinte,” said Terry Murphy, co-chair of the council.

“Reaching this milestone, in rehabilitating the Bay, is a testament to the dedication and hard work of our federal, provincial, and municipal partners, as well as, industry, agriculture, the public and local conservation authorities,” said Murphy, Quinte Conservation.

He said the BQRAP Restoration Council has approved the environmental challenges related to fish populations and habitat and underwater bugs be circulated for a 30-day public comment period.

The Restoration Council will review and address all comments. Next, the reports will be sent to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change for final review. At this stage, additional technical review or specific work can be requested, or the reports will be approved.
Once approved, the reports are sent to the governments of Canada and Ontario to seek formal concurrence on the status change. Once both governments agree, the three environmental challenges will be considered unimpaired.

“These are exciting times for the Bay of Quinte Restoration Council. After several decades of rehabilitating the Bay we are able to start the process to change the status for a number of the environmental challenges. Now, we must ensure strategies are in place, so the Bay doesn’t back slide to conditions that required a remedial action plan in the first place,” said Glenda Rodgers, Lower Trent Conservation, co-chair BQRAP Restoration Council.

The final reports and supporting information can be found on the BQRAP web site – Email comments about whether you support/do not support the recommendation to change the status of these environmental challenges to unimpaired to –

The deadline for comments is: Friday, May 5, 2017

The Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan is in partnership locally with Lower Trent Conservation and Quinte Conservation

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