Fish Kill Information and Statistics

How do fish kills happen?

Fish kills can occur for natural reasons.

Under certain circumstances, large numbers of fish can die from natural causes.

For example, every spring smelts and gaspereaux enter Island rivers to spawn and during this process some fish will die from natural causes, occasionally in significant numbers. Often these natural fish kills are caused by reduced oxygen levels when oxygen-poor bottom waters mix with the upper layers in coastal ponds in the spring.

Fish kills can result from human activities.

Nutrient overloading from agricultural operations, intensively managed recreational lands, improperly stored manure and/or from septic handling systems can lead to massive growths of algae, particularly sea lettuce. When this vegetation dies, it decomposes consuming the available oxygen in the water.  Algae blooms in Island estuaries and the resulting anoxic conditions have been blamed for fish and shellfish mortality. 

Pesticide-related fish kills have received considerable public attention in recent years. Since 1962, there have been 51 documented fish kills on PEI that were either proven to be or suspected to have been caused by pesticides. Often the product was applied to crop land prior to an intense rainfall event that washed the chemical into nearby streams. Young and mature fish of various species can experience significant mortality downstream, and other aquatic creatures can also be affected. However, it can be difficult to detect pesticides in soil, water, sediment or fish samples because of the delay between the actual die-off and the time that the fish kill is discovered and investigated.  

How can I report a fish kill?

Call 902-368-5044 or 1-866-368-5044 toll free and choose Option #1: Report Environmental Emergencies

Fish kill maps, reports and statistics

2013 Trout River Fish Kill: Preliminary Report

2014 North River Fish Kill: Preliminary Report

2016 Clyde River Fish Kill Preliminary Report

2016 Little Miminegash Fish Kill Preliminary Report

2017 Campbellton Creek Fish Kill Preliminary Report

Published date: 
June 3, 2020
Environment, Water and Climate Change

General Inquiries

Forests, Fish and Wildlife Division
J. Frank Gaudet Tree Nursery
183 Upton Road
Box 2000
Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8

Phone: 902-368-6450

Wildlife Emergencies:
902-368-4683

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khmayhew@gov.pe.ca