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Tidal turbines in whale epicenter? Hell, no!

Jackie Hildering expresses concert over an application that could lead to turbines being built in whale habitat.

There are times when expletives like “Hell No!” are justified and I am sure you will agree this is one of those very unfortunate times and – your action is needed.

Blackney Pass off Johnstone Strait is an epicentre of whale activity and there is an application for an “Investigative License of Occupation – Ocean Power” for this very area.

Yep, that’s right, an application for actual installment of technical investigative and monitoring equipment” that could lead to turbines being in critical whale habitat. The proponent is SRM Projects Ltd. of Nanaimo.

While I of course support initiatives to reduce our voracious use of climate-changing fossil fuels, to have turbines in critical whale habitat would be pure, simple, total, utter insanity. No matter how advanced the turbine technology, no amount of mitigation could compensate for the noise, prey reduction, and other disturbance to the whales.

To make clear how preposterous this application is, I present you with two maps.

First, the map showing the area for which there has been an application for a License of Occupation.

The very ocean current that makes this area of interest for staking a claim for ocean energy is what makes this such a rich area for a great diversity of marine life. Multiple currents collide causing a merry-go-round in which plankton and fish are concentrated.

This area has, in fact, even been acknowledged as critical habitat that must be protected for the threatened population of northern resident killer whales as per the Species at Risk Act. The determination of this being critical habitat is supported by almost 4 decades of data collected by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the OrcaLab.

More recently, with regard to the humpback whales, I and my fellow researchers from the Marine Education and Research Society, can attest to how often members of their population feed here as well.

But, maybe the most stark evidence of how often there are whales in the area “in question”, is offered by this second map showing where the OrcaLab has positioned their cameras and hydrophones in order to best monitor whale activity. Then, note the location of the proposed ocean power project.

One would hope that government agencies would surely deny this application. But we have so many recent examples of this being tragically misplaced faith and we cannot count on there being any legislation in place for sound environmental assessment that would confirm environmental impacts.

Therefore, we collectively need to make our “Hell No!” heard now.

Please see www.themarinedetective.ca for more information, including how to provide your feedback to government regarding this ocean power application. Comments must be received before December 2nd at AuthorizingAgency.Nanaimo@gov.bc.ca/.

Note, too, that the proponent, SRM Projects Ltd, will host a “community information session” in Port McNeill Nov. 20 in the Image Room of Chilton Regional Arena from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

 

Jackie Hildering is a marine educator, avid scuba diver, and humpback whale researcher who lives in Port McNeil. www.themarinedetective.ca.

 

 

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