Deformed fish levels normal says Province

Fish abnormalities remain constant in Athabasca River

The Alberta government is defending its aquatic monitoring efforts near oilsands operations after it was revealed that hundreds of deformed fish have been discovered since 1987.

Monitoring of the waterways including the Athabasca River is overseen by the industry-led Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program.

Recently released raw data indicates RAMP discovered 915 fish with deformities and abnormalities in the Athabasca and Clearwater rivers over 13 years. That figure conflicts with annual reports submitted to the province.

However a spokesperson for Alberta Sustainable Resource Development says the raw data is being misinterpreted and misrepresented. Fish abnormalities in the Athabasca River have remained consistent at two per cent since monitoring began says Dave Ealey.

“There was no intent or practice of withholding information” he says adding that reports suggesting RAMP is concealing evidence are “bogus.”

In September former federal environment minister Jim Prentice ordered a review of pollution going into the rivers after being shown photos of deformed fish.

Many of the abnormalities found in the fish are naturally occurring including spawning injuries and parasites says Ealey.

“The conclusion that the public makes or the media makes where automatically the contamination is seen as the only possible cause is bogus” he says.