Canada Bans Commercial Fishing in Lakes St. Clair and Erie (Great Events from History II: Ecology and the Environment Series)
Article abstract: Mercury contamination in Lake St. Clair and western Lake Erie forced Ontario officials to ban commercial fishing in these lakes.
Summary of Event
On March 19, 1970, the findings of scientist Norvald Fimreite’s research on mercury contamination in Great Lakes fish were published in a London, Ontario, newspaper. By March 31, eighteen thousand pounds of walleye were seized from commercial fishermen on the Canadian side of Lake St. Clair, and all commercial and sport fishing was halted on that lake. The sale of all perch and walleye, the most important commercial species in the lower Great Lakes, from Lake St. Clair was banned by Ontario provincial authorities.
In early 1969, Norvald Fimreite had projected that mercury-contaminated fish would be found in the waterways of Ontario and Quebec. He based his projections on the fact that several chlor-alkali manufacturing operations were located in these provinces, and he estimated that about one half-pound of mercury was discharged into the waterway by each plant for every ton of chlorine produced, or approximately 200,000 pounds of mercury per year. Fimreite’s conclusions were substantiated in Ontario when the Water Resources Commission surveyed mercury losses from pulp and paper mills as well as chlor-alkali plants. The commission found that six chloralkali plants resupplied their mercury cathode cells with 264,000 pounds of mercury per year...
(The entire section is 2196 words.)
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