The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq chiefs say they feel increasingly frustrated that tidal projects appear to be going ahead in the Minas Passage near Parrsboro, N.S. in spite of their economic and environmental concerns.
In a news release issued on Wednesday, the chiefs call on the provincial government to address their concerns about a range of issues including the potential effects of tidal turbines on fish, fish habitat and fish migration; the potential effects on sea mammals and the displacement of Mi’kmaq fishing.
The release quotes Chief Carol Potter of the Bear River First Nation in southwestern Nova Scotia: “This project will impact our ability to fish in an area that has been used for generations,” Potter says. “We need to have a voice in the decision-making process for this project.”
The chiefs say they’re also concerned that traditional ecological knowledge is not being included in assessing the potential effects of installing big tidal turbines at the testing site in the Minas Passage as well as smaller ones in Digby Gut, Petit Passage and Grand Passage.
The Mi’kmaq chiefs say they want to meet with provincial environment and energy ministers to discuss their concerns.
Last June, Environment Minister Margaret Miller approved the installation of two, 1,000 tonne, 2MW turbines in the Minas Passage as a way of gauging their effects.
“If we are to advance our collective knowledge of the turbines’ impact on our fish and marine mammals, demonstration turbines need to be in the water,” she was quoted as saying.
According to Cape Sharp Tidal spokeswoman Sarah Dawson, the first of the turbines is still in the harbour at Saint John, N.B. awaiting repairs to fastening components that were found to be defective. The company has applied for federal permission to use a foreign-owned, heavy-lift vessel to help with those repairs.
The second turbine’s fasteners have already been repaired in Pictou, N.S. where both of the five-storey high tidal machines were assembled.
Meantime, the Bay of Fundy Inshore Fisherman’s Association has launched two sets of legal challenges in their attempt to block installation of the turbines.
On October 20th, a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge will hear the fishermen’s application to stop any turbine deployments this fall.
Then in February, the association plans to challenge the environment minister’s decision to OK the first two turbines.
The fishermen argue that the minister should not have authorized deployment until baseline scientific studies are conducted to measure the presence of sea life including fish, marine mammals and lobster at the turbine testing sites. The association says such studies would take at least a year.