After completing substantial research, organizations involved in Thunder Bay harbour cleanup are recommending that “Bird or Animal Deformities or Reproduction Problems” be removed from the list of local concerns. Thunder Bay’s harbour was listed as one of over forty environmental “Areas of Concern” around the Great Lakes in 1987 under the Canada – U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Urbanization, industrial and municipal wastewater discharges, pulp and paper industry operations and hydro-electric developments were all contributing factors. Contaminated harbour sediment, water quality issues and concerns about the health of fish and wildlife populations were cited as problems requiring remedial action.
Bird and animal deformities have not been reported within the boundaries of the Thunder Bay Area of Concern however deformities in cormorants have occurred at nearby locations like the Gravel Islands (in Black Bay). Research outlined in a report on this matter, which is accessible below, is aimed at clarifying the status of this impairment.
Environment and Climate Change Canada research related to “Bird or Animal Deformities or Reproduction Problems” involved examination of herring gull eggs for contaminants. Eggs from Mutton Island and the Welcome Islands in Thunder Bay were compared to eggs from a reference site at Granite Island in Black Bay, some 60 km. eastward on Lake Superior. Research conclusions were as follows:
- there is no evidence of contaminant-induced impairment of reproduction for colonial waterbirds within the Thunder Bay Area of Concern (AOC)
- 0% deformity rate of herring gull embryos from Thunder Bay AOC following artificial incubation
- 0% deformity rate in herring gull chicks within Thunder Bay AOC in both study years
- Limited differences in contaminant concentrations between AOC and reference colonies and contaminant levels were some of the lowest across the Great Lakes
- Current contaminant concentrations are below thresholds established for impairment of reproduction and protection of avian fish-eating wildlife.
Further information about this research, including a full report, can be found in the “links” section at the bottom of this post.
Research involving “Bird or Animal Deformities or Reproduction Problems” was presented to the Public Advisory Committee to the Thunder Bay Remedial Action Plan at their March 2016 meeting. Committee members recommended that this impairment be removed from the list of environmental concerns in Thunder Bay harbour. Government agencies involved in the Remedial Action Plan are seeking input from any other interested individuals or organizations, prior to a formal decision as to whether “Bird or Animal Deformities or Reproduction Problems” in Thunder Bay harbour area should be listed as “unimpaired.”
Comments and input about changing the status of “Bird or Animal Deformities or Reproduction Problems” to unimpaired can be addressed to Remedial Action Plan Coordinator Jim Bailey at 807-343-8514 or jfbailey at lakeheadu.ca.
Remedial Action Plan agencies include Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and Lakehead University.
Below: View the Covering Letter from Environment and Climate Change Canada
Setting out the Change in Designation for “Bird or Animal Deformities or Reproduction Problems”
Redesignation Report for “Bird or Animal Deformities or Reproduction Problems” (55 pages,.pdf format)
Trouble viewing the above covering letter? View the entire letter here.
More concise information in the form of a presentation given to the Public Advisory Committee on March 23, 2016
Photos taken during field research conducted by Environment and Climate Change Canada at Granite Island on Black Bay.