Fish kill raises more questions than answers

POSTED: 10/23/13 8:10 PM

St. Maarten / By Milton G Pieters – In a race against time to separate the dead fishes from the living, the relative authorities are now faced with more questions than answers, but the biggest question is what could have caused so many fishes to die suddenly in enormous porportions .

This was the first time that the channel between the Salt Pond and the Water Gate leading to the Fresh Water Pond has been saturated with hundreds of thousands of fishes in varying sizes from edge to edge and while this recent fiasco is a cause for concern.  The awful stench is something the nearby residents have to cope with one way of the other in the coming days.

Ironically, the stench from the Great Salt Pond began to emit at least two days before the heavy downpour of rain swept across the island on Monday and while those showers may have been a blessing in disguise for many, it is still left to establish if it was a contributory factor, or a pure coincidence.

It has been established by experts that the mortality rate of fishes can be reduced drastically when the levels of oxygen in the water in which they dwell. Among the factors that causes that result for such disasters of epidemic porportions are droughts, excessive algae bloom, overpopulation, a notable increase in water temperature and more importantly toxicity in some remote cases.

Attempts to reach the St Maarten Nature Foundation failed earlier in the day, but even before the authorities effected a plan of action which commenced just after lunch. Two separate video clips which were posted on Face book were already drawing some strong reactions from a few.

When Today re-visited the scene later in the afternoon, a massive operation, which was spearheaded by staff from MNO, was engaged in an operation to not only remove the dead fishes, but also an attempt was made to save those who still showed signs of life.

Those that showed signs of life were re-located to the Fresh Water Pond, however it is still left to be seen what measures will be taken to prevent such a scenario from happening again. But those measures will  not only be the responsibility of the government,  the society as a whole has to act responsibly and residents, especially those residing on the fringes of the Great Salt Pond has to adopt a proactive approach.

The environmental agencies on this island are just among a few that is expected to react strongly to this matter and they are expected to play a vital role in an effort to determine the probable cause of the ‘fish kill’ and the possibility of long term effects.

However, this ‘fish kill’ is not an isolated incident, in August this year, 10 tons of dead fishes were found in a lake, near the Olympic Park in Brazil and that was later attributed to be the direct result of pollution problems. Up to press time, this newspaper was unable to get any official responces.



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