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MODG joins opposition to wind turbines in Chedabucto Bay

Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

  • November 8 2023

CANSO — Council for the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) has voiced its full-throated support for the Guysborough County Inshore Fisheries Association’s (GCIFA’s) opposition to any wind-energy development within Chedabucto Bay – now or in the future.

In separate statements to The Journal last week, the heads of the two organizations stated that, while they and their members endorse green energy – now considered a strategic priority provincially and of municipal governments across the province – they will not tolerate wind turbines in the economically significant body of water that continues to support hundreds of fishers and their families.

“Simply put, we are opposed to [their] installation in Chedabucto Bay,” said MODG Warden Vernon Pitts in an email. “Our community has been built on the fishery, and ensuring the future viability of our fishery is our number one priority... Our council is in favour of green energy... and offshore wind development [but] it must be done in conjunction with our fishers.”

Said Ginny Boudreau, GCIFA executive director, in an email: “[We do] support green energy development, [but] GCIFA fishermen do not support any wind development within Chedabucto Bay. [This] is already a very busy area for existing industries, including a very lucrative, sustainable fishing industry that has provided a high protein, healthy food source to a global market.”

The statements came following a news report last week that the provincial government had identified Chedabucto Bay and St. George’s Bay in the Northumberland Strait as potential sites for large-scale wind farms thanks to their robust and steady breezes. At the same time, Natural Resources Minister Tony Rushton told the CBC, “There is nothing going into work... until the proper consultation is done with the fishers...We are not looking to pit one industry against the other.”

The first round of Regional Assessments on Offshore Wind Development in Nova Scotia got underway in Guysborough in early October. Since then, the five-member panel has traveled to several Nova Scotia communities – including Sydney, Port Hawkesbury, Inverness, Digby, Yarmouth and Shelburne – partly to obtain feedback on offshore wind energy development from coastal fishers.

“MODG currently has hundreds of our residents employed within the inshore fishery and this fishery continues to be very lucrative, which in turn allows a segment of our population to be employed,” Pitts said. “This fishery gives some of our residents a good quality of life, which, in turn, allows them to set down roots, raise families and live within our municipality. MODG is in support of offshore wind development, however any development regardless of its nature should not come at the expense or demise of another.”

In her statement, Boudreau explained that the bay hosts “cargo vessels and petroleum tankers,” as well as “multiple anchorage sites” on its north and south coasts.

“There’s an operational aggregate quarry in Point Tupper shipping weekly, and an additional quarry gearing up in the Queensport area. [There’s] two hydrogen and ammonia facilities being constructed that will also be transporting their products to foreign markets. [There’s] all of this, plus 12-13 active commercial fisheries, including one that is completely landlocked to Chedabucto Bay and can’t just go someplace else for lobster.”

Noting that the GCIFA is a founding member of the Nova Scotia Fisheries Alliance for Energy Engagement, she said: “As Nova Scotians, we see the need for alternative energy sources and the potential for wind energy extraction in the marine environment. As always we are willing to share the marine space with all users and our efforts will be put towards identifying low/no conflict areas for the fishing industry that meet the objectives and needs of the OSW developers without sacrificing seafood production.”

Said Pitts: “As the offshore wind industry is developed, it must be done in conjunction with our fishers. We have a close relationship with the GCIFA and they must be at the forefront of those discussions.”

Added Boudreau: “GCIFA fishermen, crews, families and communities are very, very pleased and thankful to have the support of our warden and council in regards to not developing the marine wind energy industry within Chedabucto Bay.”