AJAs 2017 Finalists


Slug/Label Fish Kills
Date Aired or Published Nov 10, 15 and 18, 2017
Media outlet where first aired or published: The Chronicle Herald
Name of Program: News
If co-produced, list partner:
Location: Annapolis Royal
List awards, grants: none
Running time (TV/Radio):

Short explanation of the story and how it developed:

This story began with a tip from an area weir fisherman that the 35 year old tidal turbine had no permit to operate from the federal or provincial governments. I thought, 'That can't be' because Section 35 of the Fisheries Act states clearly that if you operate a facility that kills fish you need a special ministerial dispensation. That dispensation, however, can't be granted if the facility kills fish at population levels or kills endangered species. I called DFO and they said it didn't need a dispensation because it doesn't kill fish and that they know it doesn't kill fish because NSPower has never reported any fish kills to them. NSPower told me they had no record of reporting that the facility kills fish, so therefore it doesn't kill fish. It wasn't very hard, to be honest, to go through DFO's own archives and find reports by their own scientists that the facility kills fish - even endangered species. I tracked down that scientist, now semi-retired, and he was happy to talk. After I ran the first story, an area resident contacted me to say that he had sent NSPower photos of sturgeon killed by the facility last year. From him I got his correspondence with NSPower, proving that they knew the facility killed fish and didn't report it to DFO (Which knew from its own scientists but had lied to me in the first story). Under pressure from the community and the local MP for having lied about their knowledge of the fish kills - the Annapolis River was once a major spawning ground for many species - DFO announced it would review the facility. After the new year (2018 so not relevant for this competition) DFO sent sent to the whole package for review to an independent body of marine scientists. Their report, due this summer, could tie the hands of the fisheries minister - if they agree with DFO's own historic research that facility kills significant numbers of endagered and threatened species his hands will be tied by the fisheries act. This series of stories, to be honest, was just a matter of following due-diligence after receiving a tip.

Resources of the newsroom (money and time) available to complete the story:

Just me and a bit of common sense.

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