The company building an offshore wind farm off the coast of the Queen Charlotte Islands has recently installed a marine meteorological station, but not everyone is happy the project is proceeding.
Naikun Wind Energy Group, a Vancouver-based energy company, is engaged in the development of a major offshore wind project off the coast of British Columbia in an area known as the Haida Energy Field, which is home to some of Canada’s best wind regimes.
The first phase of the project involves the recently installed marine meteorological station, which is equipped with several high-tech instruments that will measure and collect data pertaining to atmospheric conditions, wave and current climate, wind speed and direction and air and sea temperatures. The measurement data will also play an important role in pre-engineering the project and identifying the optimal siting of the wind turbine locations.
This is the first offshore measurement station of its kind on the west coast of North America, and happens to be located in an area used by Dungeness crab fishermen in Area A.
The location of the wind farm in this area has been a point of contention for many crab fishermen who have voiced their concerns over the past year, such as Area “A” crab fisherman Mitch Vermeer.
“The proposed first phase of the Naikun Wind Farm project will cover approximately 30 per cent of traditional crab fishing grounds in Hecate Straight,” said Vermeer in a recent letter to Fisheries and Oceans Canada Minister Loyola Hearn.
“Fishers will not be able to set gear near the area during or after construction. Phase 1 will severely reduce the fishing grounds, forcing fishers to be more concentrated in the remaining available area, resulting in less production per vessel, more trap loss and navigational hazards.”
Vermeer estimates that if the remaining 4 phases of the proposed project were to be completed, the entire fishery would almost assuredly come to an end.
“To my knowledge, the Department has no stand on the proposed Naikun Wind Farm project,” continued Vermeer.
“The location of this project does not have to be positioned on traditional fishing grounds. Hecate Straight is a large area, and the area fished is only a portion of it.”
Vermeer and the rest of the Area “A” Crab Fishery feel that immediate action on behalf of DFO is necessary in order to preserve the existence of the Area “A” Crab Fishery, and believes that it is the responsibility of the government to intervene before further approvals of the Naikun project are made.
“My question to you, Honourable Minister, is this: why does it appear that the DFO wants this fishery, a fishery that polices itself with very little involvement by the DFO, and has excellent conservation measures in place and is still viable for the existing users, to come to an unnecessary demise?” asks Vermeer.
“The Department has the ability and, more importantly, the duty to preserve and protect this way of life for myself and hundreds of others. DFO must take the appropriate action to protect the Area ‘A’ Crab Fishery, and assure that it will not end in vain.”
By Kris Schumacher, The Daily News
26 September 2007
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