Bay of Fundy lobster fisherman Mark Taylor says he’s increasingly frustrated over disruptive operations around the tidal turbine test site in the Minas Passage.
So far, he’s been forced to move his lobster traps several times to avoid damage as Cape Sharp Tidal Inc. continues its efforts to retrieve its 1,000-tonne turbine for testing in calmer waters and for repairs in Saint John, N.B.
Taylor says the company gave him six hours notice this afternoon that its ships, barges, tugboats and support vessels will be returning to the area tonight.
“They should be notifying us two weeks ahead of time, or at least a week,” Taylor said in a telephone interview with Warktimes.
“My boat just left here and they’re going out to get the rest of the traps out of the way. We moved some last night and we’re going to get the rest out there tonight,” he said adding, “We shouldn’t have to do this.”
Turbine retrieval not going smoothly
The company announced unexpectedly more than two months ago that it would be retrieving its OpenHydro turbine starting with the first available tidal window April 15 to 20 and then, about every two weeks after that.
But so far, it hasn’t been able to raise the turbine apparently because it’s entangled by an underwater line wrapped around its subsea base tubes.
Taylor says he’s been forced to move his 450 traps, each weighing 310 pounds, to avoid operations at the FORCE tidal testing site as well as in an area near Spencer’s Island where Cape Sharp had said it planned to move the turbine for further testing.
In an e-mail to Warktimes, the company says it still plans short-term testing away from the FORCE site once the turbine is retrieved, but it’s not clear where that testing might occur or whether Cape Sharp would be able to get approval from government authorities.
‘Force site only test site’
Weir fisherman Darren Porter, who has been a persistent critic of turbine deployment, said in an e-mail that Cape Sharp would need a crown land authorization to place the turbine elsewhere on the sea floor.
“The FORCE site is the only ‘test’ site,” he writes.
He notes, however, that the company might try to convince the news media and the public that the turbine could be tested by suspending it above the sea floor, but for the moment, testing plans seem to be on hold.
Meantime, Mark Taylor who’s been fishing out of Halls Harbour and Parrsboro for 35-years, says he lost a lot of traps in November when Cape Sharp initially deployed the turbine.
“We need more notice. They got to give us some respect…that’s all there is to it,” he says. “We’ve been there a long time and they’ve got to recognize that we do work there.”
Bruce, I thought the turbine was already in Saint John, it isn’t? That’s news to me and your report is the first I’ve heard of it. Good work.
Once again another paragraph or chapter is being here written on this “boondoggle” and ill-conceived and ill-implemented experiment in the waters of the most unique marine spot on the planet! This monster of a “thing” that is being played with like a giant toy for some rich family’s kid, is going to result in nothing but trouble with a capital T for its entire cycle which is predictably going to end badly for all! The first human fatality with this has yet to happen but happen it will if this rich man’s toy is continued to be tested with obviously no real plan in place for any contingencies of any kind. The outfit running this “thing” appears to think that because they have government blessing that they need not respect any rules of decorum regarding the local users of the marine area. Local people don’t let these “rocket scientists” ruin your area economies. The view from here is this can only get worse and never will get better…but oh yes we made enough electricity for 500 homes for a few weeks until the thing “went off plan”…WOW!
Are fishers being compensated financially for the fuel and labour costs of constantly moving traps on short-notice?
Mark Taylor tells me the fishermen are not compensated at all. He says the company is careful to say they’re not asking him to move his lobster traps. They’re just notifying him that their vessels are coming into the area. Yet, he says, if he doesn’t move them, he stands to lose them. None of this activity was anticipated. Everyone assumed that once the turbine was deployed it would stay underwater at the FORCE test site for several years. Nor was it anticipated that removing the turbine would take so long — the company told a Nova Scotia judge that the turbine could be retrieved in a 12-hour tide cycle, but in this case, it’s been 60 days.