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Conservation Group Files Complaint Over Kinder Morgan Anti-Spawning Mats

WaterWealth, a Fraser Valley-based conservation group, has filed an official complaint with the College of Applied Biology, after a biologist employed by Kinder Morgan Canada was involved in the company’s unauthorized installation of plastic mats to inhibit fish spawning in several of the streams the pipeline is intended to cross.

Program Director Ian Stephen’s written submission cites Kinder Morgan’s September 12 blog post, stating that “Trans Mountain fisheries biologist Calum Bonnington and his team are temporarily installing snow fencing flat down onto some sections of streambed that are intersected by the pipeline construction right-of-way and sections immediately downstream.”

The mats were “installed prior to completion of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project’s pre-construction conditions” under federal and provincial regulations Stephen noted, and before the National Energy Board had approved the final pipeline route. “It seems safe to assume that under these circumstances there could have been no application for approvals under the Water Sustainability Act.”

He added that Bonnington had described the technique as “‘a relatively new mitigative method’ and ‘a relatively new science, without a body of supporting evidence for its success.’”

Trans Mountain spokesperson Ali Hounsell “said in response that the company’s team was installing preventive measures ‘aimed at protecting spawning fish’, and that the use of ‘spawning deterrents ahead of migration periods’ is one tool to build the pipeline in a way that minimizes impact on the environment,” the Vancouver Sun reports.

The NEB informed Trans Mountain on October 12 that it had fallen out of compliance by installing “spawning deterrents prior to approval of relevant conditions for commencement of construction and approval”. At the same time, the Board advised that removing the mats while the fish are actively spawning “has the potential to result in greater environmental harm”, so Trans Mountain should only lift them when appropriate.