Progress made toward fixing dead herring issue in Little Bay East

The mayor of Little Bay East pleads for something to be done about the smell of rotten herring coming from her community’s harbour.

Josh Hodder

Discoloring in the bay of Little Bay East
Dead herring carcasses cause the water in the gut at Little Bay East to become discolored. Worse, the dead herring are causing an unbearable smell that residents have been trying to cope with for about two years. Josh Hodder/Kicker

Little Bay East, a small community on the Burin Peninsula, has been dealing with the stink of dead herring for two years.

On some days, the smell even reaches communities up to 10 minutes away, such as St. Bernard’s.

The town hopes to finally receive funding to deal with the issue.

Cora Scott, the mayor of Little Bay East, said a pair of engineers from Memorial University have looked into issue. They said that the problem could take up to a decade to naturally resolve itself.

“Ten years is way too long for us to have to live like this,” she exclaimed. “So, I desperately hope and pray that something can get done later this spring.”

The town council of Little Bay East has secured an engineer to look into what needs to be done after two long years of the stench. Also, the council has sent an application to the provincial Department of Environment, Climate Change and Municipalities for funding to dredge the stretch of water known as “the Gut” at the entrance of the community. This project would increase water flow and wash the carcasses into the ocean. But Scott said funding announcements won’t happen until at least April of this year.

During their annual fishing season back in 2019, Scott said, fish harvesters rounded herring into the Gut. The herring smothered under the ice after being drawn towards the Gut in large numbers. The herring carcasses sank to the bottom and created an algae bloom, causing the terrible smell and the water in the Gut to change colour.

In recent years, the water has turned to a greenish blue, and herring carcasses litter the shoreline. Currently, the smell is not as noticeable due to the cold weather, but it’s only a matter of time before the stench arises again.

The community as a whole is finding the issue unbearable to live with. James Burton, a local man whose house sits behind the Gut, voiced his frustration.

“Yeah, it’s really bad,” he said. “There’s times I got to leave my house and just go.”





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