Nova Scotia

Cape Sharp Tidal prepares to deploy Bay of Fundy turbine

After months of outcry from fishermen, a tidal power company prepares to deploy an energy-generating tidal turbine in the Minas Basin near Parrsborro, N.S.

The Bay of Fundy Fishermen's Association worries about impact on lobster season underway

One hope for the Canadian economy is green innovations such as this giant turbine destined to capture energy from the moon's gravity in the Bay of Fundy's tidal bore. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

After months of outcry from fishermen, a tidal power company has started preparations to deploy an energy-generating turbine in the Minas Basin near Parrsborro, N.S.

The company says it has a week-long window to install the turbine. 

On Saturday, Cape Sharp Tidal Ventures started launching the first of two planned turbines, intended to generate power from water passing through the Bay of Fundy inlet.

The first was moved from Saint John to Parrsborro Friday night. By Saturday afternoon, the turbine was on its subsea base, and was waiting to be moved into the basin Passage by a barge and tugboat, the company said by email.

It's unclear when the installation will be finished, but the crews can only work on it during twice-daily slack tides.

The project has been met with opposition led by the Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen's Association. The group believes the five-storey turbines will cause irreparable harm to marine life and fisheries

"We're extremely disappointed that the chance to get our accurate baseline science in the Minas Passage is forever lost in Nova Scotia," association spokesman Colin Sproul said Saturday.

Not disruptive, says company

The fishermen's association was denied on Oct. 25 an injunction to stop the deployment. The Nova Scotia Supreme Court justice noted "the potential implications of getting this wrong are massive."

But the judge said he saw no evidence to suggest irreparable harm could be caused in the next four months. In February, court will hear an appeal of the government-issued deployment permit.

Colin Sproul, spokesman for the Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen's Association, says the group was surprised to learn one of the two turbines would be deployed this weekend. (CBC)

Cape Sharp Tidal spokeswoman Sarah Dawson was not available to answer questions Saturday afternoon. By email, she noted the project has all the right permits and will be in line with best practices for marine safety. 

The company has worked with fishermen in the area "to ensure we are not disruptive to fishing, while also being able to safely carry out our operations," she said.

Lobster season problematic, says group

But fishermen are particularly worried with the timing of the deployment, Sproul said.

"We're right in the height of our busiest time of year, the start of our lobster season — and the area that they're transiting here today is just full of lobster gear," he said.

"It's the association's position that it's a deliberate attempt to catch us off guard during the season, when the entire fleet is at sea, and limit our ability to protest."

The group had believed the turbines wouldn't be deployed for another year at least, based on out of court discussions in recent weeks, Sproul said.