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Fishing organization wary of turbines

Time:2018-02-13 14:56Turbochargers information Click:

News Halifax Dartmouth Bedford

The Striped Bass Association is asking provincial authorities to stop the planned placement of in-stream tidal turbines in the Minas Passage.

“Currently, there is no evidence that fish can or will avoid (these)devices in this environment,” reads a news release from the group.

“Basically, nothing with regards to environmental impacts to fish has yet been demonstrated.”

Four companies are planning on placing test turbines at the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy. FORCE has a facility on land near Parrsboro that manages and monitors four berths for turbines in the Minas Passage.

Cape Sharp Tidal, a partnership between OpenHydro and Emera Inc., is expected to deploy the first of its two 16-metre demonstration turbines by the end of this year.

At the heart of the debate around in-stream tidal turbines is whether fish will be killed or disturbed by the large equipment churning in the fast-moving, murky water of the Minas Passage.

The association claims that not only is there no evidence that fish would avoid turbines in this environment, there is a lack of baseline information about striped bass and other stocks in the Bay of Fundy to be able to gauge in retrospect whether the turbines are affecting the ecosystem.

“Most elements of information required to thoroughly assess striped bass population dynamics is unknown, including spawning stock biomass, sex ratios, spawning size and frequency, population size, mixing of striped bass from the (United States) population, recreational fishing mortality or commercial bycatch mortality,” reads the release issued Wednesday.

“The underlying principle of a precautionary approach used for managing fisheries by Fisheries and Oceans Canada is not being employed adequately with regard to striped bass and (in-stream tidal devices).”

The group argues that until more is known, no tidal devices should be installed.

FORCE says it is trying to answer the questions.

Spokesman Matt Lumley said Thursday that 20 baseline studies have been completed so far, with more to come, and all the data is publicly available.

The first of two subsea monitoring stations is set to be installed at FORCE this week to monitor currents, turbulence, marine life activity and seabed stability.

“We need real-time experience with turbines in the water, coupled with environmental sensing equipment that can collect useful and reliable data on the marine environment,” Lumley said in an email.

He agreed that more data is needed before moving to large commercial-scale in-stream tidal power generation.

OpenHydro has publicly stated its desire to up power generation capacity in the Minas Passage to 12 megawatts in 2017 and 50 megawatts in 2019. Sometime in the next decade, it’s proposing a 300-megawatt array of tidal generators that would be largely built in Nova Scotia.

“That’s why FORCE has ongoing environmental effects monitoring and research programs, and why we share the results with the public,” said Lumley.

“Based on those results, the provincial government and the public can make informed decisions about whether to move to larger scale.”

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