The Bay of Fundy Fisherman’s Association says it will continue to oppose the development of tidal power in the Minas Passage, near Parrsboro.
Association spokesman, Colin Sproul made the pledge after the fishermen lost their court challenge to the deployment of a tidal turbine in November and a second one planned for sometime this year.
In a decision released this week, a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge ruled that it was reasonable for the provincial environment minister to approve the turbine deployments by Cape Sharp Tidal Inc.
The fishermen’s association issued a news release on Monday rejecting the court ruling arguing that the judge based it on “junk science” controlled by the tidal industry. To read the news release, click here.
The association says it hasn’t decided yet whether it will appeal the decision.
Public advocacy campaign
Meantime, Sproul says the fishermen’s association will continue its public advocacy campaign against turbines that, it feels, threaten the environment and breach the environmental regulatory framework. He points to Cape Sharp’s decision to remove its currently installed turbine for repairs during the lobster season, as an example.
“It says three times in our environmental assessment they should avoid operations during the open lobster season,” Sproul says. “They want to get the turbine out, get it fixed and get it back in so they can make money. The fishermen of my association…will be the ones on the losing end when they lose lobster gear from giant ships operating in their open lobster area.”
Sproul says that so far, the fishermen have spent more than $200,000 in their fight against the turbines.
“A lot of people in Nova Scotia might see our advocacy on this issue as a special interest group protecting a lucrative fishery or something like that,” he says. “But the thing that we need to understand here is that the average age of an owner-operator fisherman in Nova Scotia is 57 years old.”
He adds that since the effects of the turbines will be long-term, the fishermen aren’t simply protecting their own immediate self-interest, but looking ahead to future generations.
“We knew it was the right thing to do and that we had to draw a line in the sand and defend our right to co-exist in the Bay of Fundy with these people,” he says.
Politics and economics
Sproul is also pledging to take his fight into the political arena. He’s been nominated as the provincial NDP candidate in the riding held by Liberal Premier Stephen McNeil.
And, he’s also skeptical about the long-term economic prospects for big tidal turbines that may one day have to compete with cheaper and simpler generators such as the model being promoted by a company called Big Moon Power.
“Frankly, they threaten to smash the turbine business model with a capital cost and a power generation cost that’s about one-fifth the cost of turbine-generated power,” he says. “It doesn’t require subsidization through our energy bill or through government funding.
“I think in the end, economics and reality will end the turbine madness in the Bay of Fundy.”