50-10 Assessing Risk to Migrating Fishes of Interactions with Turbines in Minas Passage, Bay of Fundy

Tuesday, September 6, 2011: 10:45 AM
602 (Washington State Convention Center)
Anna M. Redden , Biology Department, Acadia University, Wolfville, NS, Canada
Jeremy Broome , Biology Department, Acadia University, Wolfville, NS, Canada
Michael J. W. Stokesbury , Department of Biology, Acadia University, Wolfville, NS, Canada
Rod Bradford , Population Ecology Division, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Dartmouth, NS, Canada
Interest in developing and testing alternative means of energy production in Nova Scotia, Canada, has prompted efforts to harness tidal energy from the mega-tidal Minas Passage area of the Upper Bay of Fundy. The Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) was established in 2009 to assist the demonstration of tidal in-stream energy conversion (TISEC) devices and to measure their effects on the environment. The first commercial-scale device (OpenHydro) was deployed by Nova Scotia Power Inc during Nov 2009-Dec 2010.  It will be followed by the deployment and grid connection of three other TISEC device types.  These demonstration units offer an opportunity to examine the effects of the environment on a range of TISEC technologies as well as the impact of these devices on the environment.  The unique features of the upper Bay of Fundy – 12-16 m tidal range, extreme currents (up to 6 m/sec), sediment-laden ice, diverse and abundant migratory fish species, some of which are transboundary migrants and considered “species of concern” – are found in few other places in the world, and seldom together.  This presentation will examine the potential risk of fish - turbine interactions and focuses on the movements of three fish species (striped bass, Atlantic sturgeon, and American eel) in the Minas Passage area and near the Nova Scotia Power / OpenHydro turbine in the FORCE demonstration area.  Underwater acoustic telemetry receivers (VEMCO) were deployed in the Minas Passage (N=22) and in nearshore areas of the Minas Basin (N=9) during July-Nov 2010 to track the movements of 120 fish implanted with VEMCO acoustic tags (V13 or V16, with pressure sensors for swimming depth data).  The main objectives of the study were: 1) to define movement patterns (path, velocity, depth, seasonality, and number of passes) of tagged fishes passing through the turbine test area, and 2) detect dispersion and avoidance behavior, if any, of tagged fishes moving in close proximity (< 500 m) of the NSPI (OpenHydro) turbine. Preliminary results indicate very high post-surgery survival, with 92% of all tagged fish detected by at least 1 receiver, 68% detected by the line of receivers stretching across the 5 km wide Minas Passage, and 28% detected by receivers within the turbine test area.  The movement patterns of all three species will be reviewed.  The fish tracking program for 2011 will also be presented.