Monday, July 9, 2007

Canada behind US in Great Lakes cleanup

At least here is a case where it would be a good idea for Harper to follow the US lead but it seems Harper is following the Liberal policy here. Talk green, do nothing!

Associated Press
Canada Lagging US in Great Lakes Cleanup
Associated Press 07.06.07, 10:44 AM ET

Increasing numbers of fish reeled in from the Great Lakes are contaminated and unsafe to eat, and it's time Canada caught up to the United States with a multibillion-dollar investment into cleanup efforts, conservation group Environmental Defence said Thursday.

By following trends in the Ontario government's annual Guide to Eating Sport Fish, the group compiled a report that found consumption advisories are generally getting worse, with relatively few exceptions.

The report focused on 13 locations across the Great Lakes and four species of fish within each region. Lakes Huron and Ontario fared the worst, with a growing number of cases where eating even one fish a month would be hazardous.

The report is not meant to discourage people from eating fish, said Environmental Defence policy director Aaron Freeman, but should be a wake-up call to the public about the possible dangers of eating what they catch from the Great Lakes.

It should also shame the federal government into action, he added.

"It is interesting to note that George Bush's America is stepping up to the plate far greater than Canada," Freeman said. "We are falling behind."

He noted there are bipartisan bills working their way through Congress that would commit $20 billion to cleanup efforts, but the Canadian government has offered "virtually nothing" for the Great Lakes.

"For the first time, we are dealing with a situation where the United States is taking unilateral action to manage the Great Lakes without Canada, because we haven't shown any leadership."

Lake Ontario is highlighted in the report as showing the worst declines, with eight categories of fish that became more contaminated between 2005 and 2007, and only one category that improved.

In Toronto and Hamilton, none of the 18 types and sizes of fish that were studied were given the safest rating, which allows eight servings per month. Half the fish were deemed unsafe to eat.

The report also notes that smaller fish are being affected by levels of contamination.

It gives experts more evidence that the waters are too toxic, given that it was once expected that only larger and older fish - which have had more exposure to chemicals and are therefore more contaminated - would be unsafe to eat.

The public needs to know more about what they are eating, and more in-depth information should be added in subsequent editions of the annual fish guide, the report recommends.

The government only lists which fish are dangerous to eat but doesn't adequately reveal why, Freeman said, adding that there should be specific data available on actual levels of contaminants in fish, as well as historical levels of contamination.

Ontario Environment Minister Laurel Broten had a hard time answering whether she was confident eating Great Lakes fish, and said it takes a lot of diligence for people to know if what they are eating is safe.

"I don't know if I eat a lot of fish from the Great Lakes, and that's one of the challenges we all face," Broten said.

"Sometimes when we buy products from a grocery store we don't know where it has come from, and that's why information is important for people."

She wouldn't commit to releasing specific information about how badly Great Lakes fish are contaminated, but said the government would review all the report's recommendations.

Federal Environment Minister John Baird is on vacation and could not be reached for comment.

Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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