SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. -- A Prince Edward Island farmer has been fined about $72,000 after pesticide runoffs from his land resulted in a large fish kill, Environment Canada says.

Thousands of fish died in July 2011 and again about a year later in Trout River and Barclay Brook in western P.E.I.

Warren Ellis of Mount Royal was sentenced Wednesday in Summerside provincial court after pleading guilty to two violations of the federal Fisheries Act, Environment Canada says in a news release issued Thursday.

It says $65,000 of the fine will go towards an environmental damages fund, the Atlantic Salmon Federation and a project used to help salmon stocks recover.

The department says its investigation found reasonable measures weren't taken to prevent an agricultural pesticide from being released.

The sentence was greeted favourably by environmental activist Sharon Labchuk, who says she and others have pressed Ottawa for over a decade to use the Fisheries Act to levy fines.

"It's significant the act is used," said Labchuk, the director of P.E.I.-based Earth Action.

"People here have been disappointed for decades that that particular piece of legislation is so rarely used."

Wade MacKinnon, manager of enforcement with the province's Environment, Labour and Justice departments, has said the use of the federal law is important because fines are heavier than those permitted under provincial laws.

Provisions of the federal Fisheries Act prohibit depositing "deleterious substances" in waters inhabited by fish.

The legislation allows for fines of between $15,000 and up to $1 million for an individual for a first offence, and between $500,000 and $6 million for a corporation.