EAC: Cutting edge tidal needs cutting edge monitoring

Illustration (Photo: Cape Sharp Tidal)

Ecology Action Centre (EAC) of Canada has supported the development of tidal energy, but posits that it’s imperative the impacts of tidal energy on the marine ecosystem and on the livelihoods that rely on it are monitored and understood.

The EAC maintains that all energy development must be carried out such that it has a net environmental benefit and minimizes the impact on surrounding ecosystems.

The position statement from EAC is related to the upcoming tidal energy deployments in the Bay of Fundy, namely Cape Sharp Tidal project, expected to take place at the end of this month.

“At this early stage of tidal turbine development, it is critical that government and industry make extraordinary efforts to understand all potential impacts on the marine environment and on sustainable livelihoods before moving forward with further phases of Bay of Fundy tidal power projects. The tidal power industry and monitoring bodies, including FORCE, must work closely with scientists from DFO, other federal agencies, and educational institutions to continually develop a credible monitoring and research program,” EAC said in a statement.

EAC states that indigenous peoples, fishermen, and other community members need to be fully included as stakeholders in the decision making process around tidal energy projects, and that lack of existing technology is not a sufficient excuse to not properly monitor the projects’ effects.

The EAC’s position is that a world class and cutting edge project in a region with the world’s highest tides and some of its strongest currents requires world class and cutting edge monitoring.

EAC has made the following recommendations:

  1. Moving forward with the Cape Sharp tidal demonstration project first requires that appropriate monitoring measures are in place. Failing to properly monitor effects will be a missed opportunity to set a high standard for tidal energy generation the world over, and may allow unacceptable harm to the ecosystem to go undetected
  2. Concerns regarding FORCE’s proposed Environmental Effects Monitoring Program, including those identified in the DFO review must be addressed before the addition of any new turbines in the Minas Passage
  3. FORCE should publicly display DFO’s April 2016 review of the Environmental Effects Monitoring Program (EEMP) for the Fundy Tidal Energy Project on their website
  4. FORCE’s consultation process must be transparent and ongoing for all stakeholders, and must include commercial and recreational fishermen, indigenous peoples, and the general public
  5. Cape Sharp should release its full EEMP, rather than just the summary. The Cape Sharp Tidal Demonstration Project is meant to set a standard for the industry as a whole, and therefore no commercially sensitive information should be withheld from relevant stakeholders or the public.

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