The Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) Tidal Energy Project, located near Black Rock in the Minas Passage of the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia, is a research and development demonstration site dedicated to testing tidal power technologies, in particular Tidal In-stream Energy Conversion (TISEC) devices. The project consists of four undersea berths for four TISEC subsea turbine generators, subsea cables, and associated land-based infrastructure. The project was assessed under a harmonised provincial and federal Environmental Assessment (EA) process. As a commitment made during the environmental assessment and as a condition of the provincial environmental assessment approval, the proponent, FORCE, was required to develop and implement an Environmental Effects Monitoring (EEM) program for the project. Additional monitoring by a berth holder, Open Hydro / Nova Scotia Power Inc., was required as a condition of authorisations under s.32 and s.35(2) of the Fisheries Act issued by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). The purpose of the EEM program was to verify the effectiveness of any mitigation measures implemented by the proponent, the accuracy of the EA predictions, and compliance with conditions of provincial and federal permits and authorisations. To fulfill the reporting requirements for the EEM program from the commencement of the project in late September 2009 to January 2011, FORCE prepared a monitoring report that provides the results of the EEM program including details of the various monitoring surveys (FORCE 2011). The report covers the period during which the Open Hydro / Nova Scotia Power Inc. TISEC device was present at the site (i.e., November 12, 2009, to December 13, 2010). The device, however, was only verified in normal operation for a few weeks (i.e., November 12, 2009 to December 4, 2009). DFO’s Ecosystem Management Branch, Maritimes Region, is now reviewing FORCE’s EEM Report and has asked DFO Science to contribute to this review.
DFO’s Special Science Response Process was used to review the monitoring studies within the FORCE EEM report and provide input that may improve such monitoring studies in the future, as well as help inform EEM programs for monitoring future commercial-scale tidal energy projects. The specific questions from DFO Ecosystem Management Branch, Maritimes Region, to DFO Science were:
This Science Response Report results from the Science Special Response Process of March 2012 on the Review of a Fundy Tidal Energy Project Environmental Effects Monitoring Report.
The conclusions of this Science Response Report are that the FORCE EEM program contains a broad range of surveys to collect data and enhance the knowledge of baseline conditions for the ecosystem. However, the EEM report only includes the results of those studies carried out in 2010. Submission of the 2011 monitoring activities and results would enable a more thorough review of the monitoring program to date. One gap in the EEM program is the lack of monitoring studies in the vicinity of the turbine, particularly related to fish behaviour.
For future considerations of commercial scale scenarios, it is recommended that DFO maintain its adaptive management approach to assessing and mitigating the potential impacts of TISEC devices. It is important to note that the monitoring program has not yet effectively monitored for environmental effects of an operational TISEC device as the device was only verified in normal operation for a few weeks (i.e., November 12, 2009 to December 16, 2009). Until such a monitoring program is underway and operational, it is difficult to provide further science advice on improving monitoring surveys to identify and mitigate potential environmental effects.
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