FORCE: No evidence of tidal turbine effects on environment

(Photo: FORCE)

The interim monitoring report issued by Fundy Ocean Research Center for Energy (FORCE) found no evidence of environmental effects related to the demonstration tidal turbine deployed in the Bay of Fundy.

The ‘Environmental Effects Monitoring Program Quarterly Report: January 1 – March 31, 2017’ is an interim progress report on mid-field monitoring work ongoing at the FORCE site.

The 136-page document contains preliminary insights from third-party researchers. However, conclusions and analysis will require complete annual data set, FORCE informed.

Tony Wright, General Manager of FORCE, said: “We have not seen evidence of environmental effects at this point, but it’s too soon to draw any conclusions. While international research indicates fish and marine mammals generally avoid in-stream tidal turbines, we need time to test those findings here in the Minas Passage.”

Fish monitoring to date indicates that mean relative fish densities were not different before and after the turbine deployment, in either the FORCE site or the control area near Cape Split, FORCE said.

“So far no effect of the turbine has been found, but more sampling is needed to document fish density variation over time and determine any effects,” said Gayle Zydlewski of the University of Maine’s School of Marine Sciences. “This report includes only the first survey analyzed after deployment; as we collect and analyze more data, a clearer picture will emerge.”

The statistical analysis of the marine mammal monitoring post-turbine deployment is underway, while data collection also continues at site, according to Dom Tollit, Senior Research Scientist at Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) Consulting Canada, one of the research partners for the FORCE’s monitoring program.

Marine sound monitoring is also underway, with data collected before turbine deployment in October 2016 and post-turbine deployment in March 2017. Data collection will continue, while JASCO and Ocean Sonics will complete data analysis later in 2017.

Lobster monitoring is expected to occur in late spring 2017. This research program will measure whether the presence of a turbine affects the number of lobster entering commercial lobster traps

Wright added: “Our mandate is to share data with both regulators and the public, so any decisions about tidal energy technology can be based on science. We’re also pleased to be able to contribute to the growing body of international research on in-stream tidal technology.”

The 2MW demonstration turbine was deployed at FORCE site by Cape Sharp Tidal in November 2016.

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