New Brunswick

Fundy Baykeeper worries whales will be impacted by potash ships

Matthew Abbott says plans to expand the Saint John terminal would double potash cargo ships in the Bay of Fundy and may affect whale communication and migration

Matthew Abbott says increased marine traffic from terminal expansion may hurt whale communication

Right whales are just one of the whale species that migrate to the Bay of Fundy each year. (Kara Mahoney Robinson/New England Aquarium)

The Fundy Baykeeper is concerned a proposed expansion of the potash terminal in Saint John will affect marine life in the Bay of Fundy.

The expanded terminal would see potash ship traffic in the Bay of Fundy double from 60 ships a year to more than 120.

"As we increase traffic, it's going to become more like jay-walking at rush hour for whales getting across the shipping lanes," said Matthew Abbott, the Fundy Baykeeper for the Conservation Council of New Brunswick.

Abbot said current studies of the bay show noise from ships inhibits the ability of whales to communicate with each other.

PotashCorp unveiled its expansion plans for its Courtney Bay terminal at an open house in Saint John this week.

The expanded terminal would include a truck entrance near the causeway and increase the size of the rail yard there.

PotashCorp's goal is to expand annual production at Penobsquis from 800,000 tonnes today to 1.2 million tonnes when the new mine is fully operational. That would increase marine traffic from 60 ships per year to more than 120 in the Bay of Fundy. (CBC)
The project would also involve filling in about three hectares of the Courtney Bay mud flats. Abbott is reviewing the environmental impact assessment for the mud flats.

Abbot says proposed projects like the potash terminal expansion. the Energy East pipeline, and converting Canaport LNG into an export terminal would all increase the marine traffic in the bay, but are being looked at on case-by-case basis.

"We really need some mechanism for looking at these expansion projects together, so that we have some sort of understanding of what our bay can handle in terms of noise and traffic," he said.

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