Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks says more than a hundred dead fish that appeared in the Ottawa River near Cumberland are coming from the Lièvre River in Quebec, but it has yet to determine the reason for the die off.
On Monday, Carie McBain, who lives next to the Cumberland-Masson ferry, went to see for herself after noticing a photo of dead catfish on a social media site for Cumberland residents.
“All you could see were spots bobbing all over the water as far as you can see, and we went up to them and saw big catfish with really huge big bellies, and perch, walleye, rock bass and carp,” McBain said. “It was gross.”
Other residents found dead fish washed up on the shoreline, she said.
Several residents of Cumberland and nearby Rockland, Ont., called the Ottawa Riverkeeper’s pollution hotline Monday to report the die-off.
Larissa Holman, the conservation agency’s director of science and policy, said the variety of dead fish is cause for concern.
“If you had something occurring in a single species, [it’s likely due to] a natural occurrence that would not necessarily raise alarm bells,” she said. “But when you see a large number of fish and a variety of species, that is concerning and indicates something is going on.”
Ontario’s environment ministry sent investigators to the site on Tuesday and determined the Lièvre River, which flows through the Gatineau neighbourhoods of Buckingham and Masson-Angers, was the source.
Officials in Quebec are also responding to reports of dead fish near Masson-Angers, ministry spokesperson Gary Wheeler confirmed in an email.