In support of the development of alternate sources of renewable energy, the Provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are exploring the feasibility of offshore tidal power. To guide the development of this new energy sector, the province of Nova Scotia, with the participation of New Brunswick, recently conducted a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for offshore renewable energy. The SEA process included consultation with the fishing and aquaculture sectors, marine transportation interests, academia, municipalities, and First Nations. The document included a number of recommendations, some of which are within the mandate of DFO. A parallel document is in preparation to summarize the consultation sessions conducted in New Brunswick.
As next steps, Nova Scotia is proposing the implementation of demonstration scale projects, whereas New Brunswick is considering a different approach based on monitoring conditions at candidate sites to understand energy conversion potential and environmental interactions.
In preparation for DFO’s possible involvement with the regulatory aspects of tidal power, DFO Maritimes Oceans, Habitat, and Species at Risk Branch requested Science Branch in May, 2007 to provide advice on four areas relating to expected environmental impacts of small-scale tidal power generation projects in the Bay of Fundy. In March 2008, a workshop was held by DFO to review a preliminary document entitled, ‘Background Report for the Fundy Tidal Energy SEA’, prepared by Jacques Whitford. The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), prepared by the Offshore Energy Environmental Research Association, followed and the Nova Scotia Department of Energy has since responded to its 29 recommendations. In the interim, in response to a request from Oceans, Habitat, and Species at Risk Branch, DFO Maritimes Science has undertaken a Special Science Response Process to provide scientific advice on four issues associated with the potential for environmental impacts from the proposed small-scale tidal power generation projects in the Bay of Fundy.
The specific questions requiring science advice were:
- What are the potential / expected environmental impacts of a small-scale tidal power generation projects in the Bay of Fundy on fish and fish habitat, species-at-risk, and other issues of concern to DFO?
- What mitigation measures could be implemented to help minimize any negative environmental impacts of concern to DFO?
- What type of monitoring approach and design would help to verify any conclusions made above (i.e., to delineate any residual environment effects of the project)?
- What data could be collected prior to and during small-scale tidal power generation projects that would improve science's ability to predict the potential environment impacts of largescale tidal power generation projects?
A National DFO Workshop to investigate the broader issue of tidal/wave energy is expected later in 2008 or 2009, and that it is possible that the outcomes of this workshop may further inform the conclusions of this science response.