A judge is barring a group from spraying a chemical in the Miramichi Lake area until a lawsuit filed by local cottage owners can be heard.
Spraying of rotenone, a pesticide and piscicide, was scheduled Wednesday to eradicate invasive smallmouth bass , according to court documents.
On Tuesday, Justice Terrence Morrison made an order preventing any spraying until the lawsuit objecting to it is heard on Aug. 17.
The Working Group on Smallmouth Bass Eradication in the Miramichi has been trying to spray since last year. It previously said the invasive fish in Miramichi Lake, Lake Brook and a portion of the Southwest Miramichi River has been threatening native Atlantic salmon and brook trout.
However, objections from locals and Wolastoqey grandmothers, including some who paddled on the lake when spraying was scheduled last year, have stopped them so far.
Cottage owners want permanent ban
On Aug. 2, three cottage owners on the lake filed a lawsuit against North Shore Micmac District Council., Inc. claiming the spraying would cause them irreparable harm. They asked a judge to make an order preventing the spraying either permanently or conditionally.
In the following days the bass eradication group said it will go ahead with the spraying, prompting the cottage owners to ask for an emergency injunction Tuesday because spraying would make their lawsuit moot.
Cottagers received notice Tuesday morning that spraying would start Wednesday.
The application for the emergency injunction said “there is a serious issue to be tried,” and “the applicants will continue to suffer irreparable harm” if spraying goes ahead before their lawsuit is heard.
Justice Morrison of the Woodstock Court of Queen’s Bench agreed and made the order without lawyers for the eradication group present.
Morrison said this so-called ex-parte order is necessary because waiting to notify the other side would have “serious consequences.”
According to the lawsuit, the spraying of rotenone would kill all fish in the lake and not just smallmouth bass.
Court documents filed by the cottagers said spraying would mean cottage owners couldn’t swim or fish in the lake for at least a year. The resulting rotting fish and the possibility of disease being introduced into the lake all will cause “irreparable harm,” the suit said.
The cottagers said spraying and the resulting death of fish amount to trespassing and nuisance and must be prevented by the judge.
None of the claims have been proven in court, and the North Shore Micmac District Council., Inc. has not filed a statement of defence.
The provincial government has previously ordered an environmental assessment and the federal government has given the green light to the spray program.
Chief George Ginnish of Natoaganeg First Nation previously released a statement on behalf of the North Shore Micmac District Council in support of the chemical spraying of the Miramichi watershed.
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