Jackfish Bay

The Jackfish Bay Area of Concern (AOC) was redesignated as an Area in Recovery (AOCiR) in 2011 based on community and government consensus that all the scientifically feasible and economically reasonable remedial actions had been implemented, and additional time was required for the environment to recover. The announcement of this change was made at the Terrace Bay Green Tradeshow, May 14th, 2011. Volunteers involved in the Remedial Action Plan for Jackfish Bay, municipal officials from the towns of Terrace Bay and Schreiber, federal and provincial representatives as well as area residents joined together to celebrate this announcement.

Map of Jackfish Bay Area of Concern

In order to assess changes over time to confirm that natural recovery is occuring, a Long-Term Monitoring Plan was developed with Canada, Ontario, and partner organizations continuing to monitor the following environmental components:

  • contaminated sediment and water quality in Jackfish Bay, including inputs from Blackbird Creek;
  • benthic community health (i.e., bugs and worms living on the lake bottom) in Jackfish Bay;
  • contaminant levels in fish and overall fish health within Jackfish Bay; and
  • current aesthetics (i.e., water colour/clarity, water odour, presence of foam/debris) in Jackfish Bay.

Results of these monitoring studies indicate that water and sediment quality in Jackfish Bay has improved. Fish species such as lake trout and lake whitefish are abundant within Jackfish Bay and a growing brook trout population has been observed. These are good indications that fish populations are recovering within the AOCiR. The quality of wastewater from the area pulp mill has improved in recent decades and it is continued to be monitored.

aerial photograph of freight train winding around Jackfish Bay

In the meantime, the mill continues to be subject to environmental protection legislation under the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation, and Parks (MECP) and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). Under the MECP regulations, the mill effluent discharge is to meet specific parameter limits, sampling and reporting requirements, as well as the requirements of O.Reg. 760/93: Effluent Monitoring and Effluent Limits – Pulp and Paper Sector discharging through Municipal and Industrial Strategy for Abatement (MISA) Sampling Points. MECP also requires that environmental effects monitoring be undertaken by the mill. Under ECCC regulations, the mill effluent discharge is required to meet effluent quality limits set by the Pulp and Paper Effluent regulations, and the mill must evaluate the effects of effluent on fish and fish habitat as part of the federal Environmental Effects Monitoring program. The information is used to determine the effectiveness of pollution prevention and control measures.

Canada, Ontario, and partner organizations will continue to assess fish and benthic invertebrate health, water and sediment quality and aesthetic conditions in the AOCiR as part of the Long-term Monitoring Plan.

When monitoring assessments confirm ecosystem health has improved such that the delisting criteria (environmental quality objectives) are being met, Canada and Ontario will engage the local community and First Nations and Métis organizations  on whether beneficial use impairments can be changed to “not impaired” status, and ultimately, for Jackfish Bay to be removed (or “delisted) from the list Areas of Concern.

A video on the industrial history of the Jackfish Bay – Terrace Bay – Schreiber area was shown at the tradeshow event.

More historical photos from Jackfish Bay…

Photos of the Blackbird Creek/Jackfish Bay waterway from the eighties…

Historical photo of Jackfish Village from 1939, courtesy of the Terrace Bay Public Library

More Information about Jackfish Bay

Jackfish Bay was identified in the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement as an Area of Concern. In 1985, the International Joint Commission identified Jackfish bay as an area of concern. Located on the north shore of Lake Superior, approximately 250 kilometers northeast of Thunder Bay, the area of concern consists of a 14-kilometer stretch of Blackbird Creek; between the pulp mill in Terrace Bay and Jackfish Bay, including Lake “A” and Moberly Lake (Lake “C”) as well as Jackfish Bay.

Jackfish Bay was originally listed as an area of concern based on problems related to conventional pollutants, heavy metals, toxic organics, contaminated sediments, fish consumption advisories and impacted biota due to industrial point sources (pulp mill) and in-place pollutants (contaminated sediments). Some of the major environmental concerns relating to this area include health of fish and wildlife communities including habitat, degraded aesthetics, and the degradation of sediments and aquatic communities, which utilize the watercourse. The predominant source of contamination for Jackfish Bay is the wastewater discharge from the Terrace Bay pulp mill into Black Bird Creek, since the opening of the pulp mill in 1948. The effluent flows from the mill site located in Terrace Bay, Ontario, through Blackbird Creek into Jackfish Bay, Lake Superior. The mill’s effluent quality greatly improved with the construction of a secondary treatment facility in 1989 and the phasing-out of elemental chlorine bleaching.

In accordance with the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, each Area of Concern has developed a Remedial Action Plan (RAP) that guides restoration and protection efforts. The Stage 1 Remedial Action Plan (RAP) Report for the Jackfish Bay AOC, identified 8 beneficial uses as “impaired”, 7 as “not impaired”, and 4 as “requiring further assessment”. In 1998, the Stage 2 RAP report was complete, identifying still 8 beneficial uses as “impaired”, 8 as “not impaired” and only 3 as “requiring further assessment”.

The Jackfish Bay RAP is a partnership between the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario, with support from the Jackfish Bay Public Advisory Committee (PAC). Many linkages and alliances have been developed as part of the Remedial Action Plan process between the RAP team and various other groups in the community; including private citizens, recreational groups, industry and municipalities.

Important Jackfish Bay Documents

1991: The Stage 1 Remedial Action Plan (RAP) Report
identified 8 beneficial uses as “impaired”, 7 as “not impaired” and 4 as “requiring further assessment”.

1998: The Stage 2 Remedial Strategies for Ecosystem Restoration Report
identified 8 beneficial uses which remained “impaired”, 8 were listed as “not impaired” and 3 were “requiring further assessment”.

2011: Jackfish Bay Area of Concern in Recovery Status Report
identified 4 beneficial uses which remained “impaired”, 12 were listed as “not impaired” and 3 “requiring further assessment”. The remaining impairments included: degradation of fish populations, dynamics of benthic populations, body burdens of benthic populations and the loss of fish habitat. Those requiring further assessment included: fish consumption, body burdens of fish, and the degradation of aesthetics.

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