FORCE, OERA, and Nova Scotia Department of Energy announced $500,000 in funding to begin a new environmental effects monitoring program (EEMP) at the FORCE site in the Minas Passage.
The new monitoring program is designed to determine the effects of deployment and operation of in-stream tidal turbines on the marine environment with a focus on fish, lobster, marine birds, marine mammals, and acoustic effects.
While early research in other jurisdictions suggests the effects of in-stream tidal turbines may not be significant, the Minas Passage remains a unique environment requiring further study, according to the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE).
Michel Samson, Nova Scotia Energy Minister, said: “Tidal energy holds tremendous potential for our province –both as a source of clean power and as an economic opportunity for our growing ocean technology sector. Monitoring and sharing data are important in realizing this potential – providing industry, scientists, regulators and the public with more information about how the technologies are interacting with the natural environment.”
Stephen Dempsey, Executive Director of the Offshore Energy Research Association (OERA), added: “Environmental monitoring is key to understanding the interactions of marine life with tidal energy devices as they are deployed in the Bay of Fundy this year.”
Accompanying the release of the EEMP, FORCE issued requests for proposals to conduct monitoring studies related to marine fish, lobster catchability, marine mammal data analysis, and marine seabirds.
The $500,000 for environmental effects monitoring includes $250,000 from FORCE plus an additional $250,000 from OERA and the NS Department of Energy.
The monitoring plan was developed in consultation with SLR Consulting, provincial and federal regulators, and FORCE’s environmental monitoring advisory committee which includes representatives from scientific, government, fishing, and First Nations communities.