NS: Fishing group condemns green light for Fundy turbines

First OpenHydro turbine to be installed in the Bay of Fundy (Photo: Cape Sharp Tidal)
First OpenHydro turbine to be installed in the Bay of Fundy (Photo: Cape Sharp Tidal)

A group calling for a halt to the installation of tidal turbines in the Bay of Fundy pending further environmental assessments denounced a decision by the Nova Scotia government to allow the turbine installation in the Bay of Fundy to proceed.

Bay of Fundy Inshore Fisherman’s Association has repeatedly voiced concerns that the installation of two five-story-tall, 1,000-ton steel turbines in the Bay of Fundy’s environmentally-sensitive Minas Passage could wreak havoc on the Bay’s marine life.

Colin Sproul, a fifth-generation lobster fisherman and spokesperson for the Bay of Fundy Inshore Fisherman’s Association, criticized the government approval, saying it is ‘the Environment Minister’s job to protect the environment, not to rubber stamp energy projects.’

The first turbines in the Bay of Fundy will be installed by Cape Sharp Tidal, a joint venture between Emera and OpenHydro, this year. Cape Sharp Tidal had recently postponed the installation of the first turbine, originally planned for the end of this month, to conduct more consultations with the fishermen on the environmental impacts the turbines could potentially have on the fish in the Bay of Fundy.

Following the review of of the Environmental Effects Monitoring Plan for the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) and Cape Sharp Tidal by Nova Scotia Department of Environment, in consultation with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the monitoring program was approved, allowing the installation of the turbines in the Bay of Fundy to begin.

Sproul said the plan was developed without consultation from key stakeholders and argued that the decision to place unshielded tidal turbines in the narrow Minas Passage will turn the turbines into ‘killing machines on the floor of the most fertile and ecologically sensitive region in Canada.’

The Bay of Fundy Inshore Fisherman’s Association is now spearheading a coalition that involves fishing groups, environmental groups and First Nations communities concerned about the turbine installation, the association said in a press release.

“We’re not opposed to tidal power or renewable energy, but not at the cost of damaging the environment or destroying the natural resources that feed our families and contribute enormously to our economy,” said Sproul. “The poorly thought out decision to place the turbines in the Minas Passage was done without conducting a proper assessment of the marine life in the Bay and the impact these turbines will have on this precious resource.”

The Bay of Fundy Inshore Fisherman’s Association represents more than 175 small businesses along the Fundy Coast involved in the fishing industry.

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