Fishermen vs FORCE at The Nova Scotia Committee on Resources

The Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen's Association and FORCE have appeared before the Nova Scotia Committee on Resources. Colin Sproul repeated his story, including his unusual take on the Doppler effect. He also repeated:

The top galah of FORCE, Tony Wright, wasn't going to be outdone by the likes of Sproul:

Aside from balm for his hurt feelings, the thing that Mr Sproul says that he really wants is:
"accurate baseline studies to be completed on the undisturbed ecosystem of this incredible spectacle of nature."
The general idea behind this request for "baseline studies" is for the sake of comparison of the ecosystem after the test turbines have been installed.

There is the obvious point, that the ecosystem is already very disturbed. Disturbed by fishermen, disturbed by human modification of the catchment, disturbed by farming, disturbed by dykes and roading. One might expect that previous before and after surveys of the ecosystem should already have provided a baseline study of the presently disturbed ecosystem?

Here we get to the real meat of the matter. The Minas Channel-Passage-Basin ecosystem is very difficult to measure. Much more difficult to measure than, say, a block of old growth forest. (It's far, far easier to count trees than fish.) Furthermore, many features of that marine ecosystem will have a high degree of natural variability. Expensive measurements would need to be made over a very long time in order to quantify the variability. Striped bass can live for 30 years and over that period of time their breeding success can fluctuate wildly, from year to year and from decade to decade. The simple fact of the matter is that it's been more than 10 years since DFO even made even the arse-end of a half-hearted effort to estimate the local population of striped bass. (To their credit, DFO has made an heroic effort to measure and model the population of gaspereau that migrate to the Gaspereau River in order to spawn. They get a little help from Acadia University.)

Determining how test turbines change the ecosystem from "baseline" is a fools errand. Yet that is the mission that government regulation and The Ecology Action Centre and Mr Sproul would send us on!

Besides, fish are just the smallest part of the ecosystem. The real "baseline" of the ecology of Minas Basin is the primary production by tiny benthic phytoplankton and the tiny invertibrates that feed upon them.

The obvious thing is to just measure whether or not fish go through the instream turbine and observe what happens if they do. The fish tracking studies by scientists at Acadia University should serve as the ideal starting point for designing a measurement program for fish-turbine interactions.