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The Offshore Energy Research Association, the provincial Energy Department and Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy announced a $500,000 environmental effects monitoring program for the tidal project in the Bay of Fundy near Parrsboro.
TC MEDIA - The Offshore Energy Research Association and the Nova Scotia Department of Energy are jointly funding $250,000 to support an enhanced environmental effects monitoring program at the FORCE site in the Bay of Fundy near Parrsboro.
Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy is providing the other half of the funding for the half-million-dollar program that is designed to determine the effects of deployment and operation of in-stream tidal turbines in 2016.
“Tidal energy holds tremendous potential for Nova Scotia – both as a producer of clean, renewable energy, and as an economic driver,” Energy Minister Michel Samson said in a news release. “The monitoring program at FORCE will provide developers, regulators, researchers and the public with information to better understand the impact of development on the marine environment. It’s an important step in our plan to build and grow a responsible tidal energy sector in Nova Scotia.”
In 2015, Nova Scotia passed the Marine Renewable Energy Act, which provides a clear and responsible path forward for developing Nova Scotia’s marine renewable energy resources, including in-stream tidal energy.
“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,” Stephen Dempsey, executive director of the OERA, said.
FORCE’s environmental assessment approval requires the implementation of a series of monitoring programs to assess the environmental effects of deployment of new tidal turbines by its berth holders.
To date, FORCE has conducted 20 baseline environmental studies that are available online at fundyforce.ca/environment/monitoring.
“If tidal energy is to grow to a larger scale, development must happen responsibly,” said Tony Wright, general manager of FORCE. “We have lots of work to do to better understand potential impacts on fish and other marine life. That’s why FORCE is designing an enhanced environmental effects monitoring program, and we’ll ensure all results are made available to the public.”
OERA funding will be used to support monitoring programs related to fish and marine mammals that will extend over most of 2016. FORCE’s broader environmental monitoring plan also includes programs aimed at seabirds, lobster and the acoustic environment and was developed in consultation with regulators and its Environmental Monitoring Advisory Committee, which consists of independent representation from academia, other recognized experts such as retired government researchers, the local fishing community and the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia.
The fish and marine mammal programs undertaken by FORCE within the crown lease area will complement similar programs initiated by the berth holders much closer to the turbines themselves.