A whole load of unknowns: Fundy fishermen call for halt of all tidal energy activity

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier jriley@digbycourier.ca
Published on May 17, 2016

Gearing up for the 2015-16 lobster fishing season in Pinkney's Point on Saturday morning, Nov. 28.

©TINA COMEAU PHOTO

DIGBY – Inshore fishermen want all tidal power development in the Bay of Fundy stopped until they are consulted or informed.

The Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen’s Association (BFIFA) sent out a petition to port reps and stores up and down the Bay of Fundy on May 17.

“Fishermen and community members of the Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen’s Association want to urge our government leaders and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to halt all tidal power activity in the Bay of Fundy until such time that we have been properly informed of the costs and effects to our fishing industry, our environment, our coastal communities,” reads the petition.

Chris Hudson, president of BFIFA, says he was contacted once about three years ago.

“I got a call from a professor up at Acadia and I went up and talked to him, he was sort of an in between guy,” says Hudson. “That was about the time they were playing with that one turbine that got beat all to pieces.”

Hudson says he figured it was all just an experiment and they’d never find a turbine tough enough.

“The Bay of Fundy tides are that strong - we figured they’d never get anything tough enough to fly. Sometimes it’s easier to just go about your business and since then I haven’t heard anything.”

Last week though, fishermen from the Minas Basin area got in touch with Hudson to ask for support from the association.

The BFIFA represents 150 lobster and longlining license holders on the Nova Scotia side of the Bay of Fundy – from Yarmouth right up to the head of the bay.

With captain and crew, that’s close to 500 fishermen, plus their families and communities.

“We’ve never been consulted down this end of the bay, no one is telling us what’s going on, what effect, what cost it might have on us,” says Hudson. “We don’t know what effect it will have on the larva floating, will the turbines beat them up? When there’s hundreds of turbines, what’s the effect going to be?

“There’s a whole load of unknowns.”

[DFO asks tidal developer for more environmental monitoring]

[Cost of tidal: Bay of Fundy fishermen worried about fish stocks ]

Hudson says the unknowns need to be cleared up before risking the fishery.

“You can’t displace a whole industry that pumps hundreds of millions of dollars into the local communities, and for what? A whole bunch of unknowns and what is that going to do for the local communities dependent on the fisheries?”

The association plans to collect the signatures of fishermen and community members and then present that to the provincial Minister of Fisheries Keith Colwell.

“We hope maybe this will make them pay attention and sit down and meet with us and see where this all goes, see how far they want to push this,” said Hudson.

jriley@digbycourier.ca