Environmental Effects Monitoring Program Annual Report 2020

This report provides a summary of monitoring activities and data analyses completed at the FORCE site up to the end of 2020. In addition, it also highlights findings from international research efforts, previous data collection periods at the FORCE site, and additional research work that is being conducted by FORCE and its partners.

Key updates in this report include:

- Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) Consulting Ltd. provided their 3rd year report of harbour porpoise monitoring at the FORCE test site using C-PODs. The report describes the results of C-POD deployments #7-10 (May 2018 - August 2019), and places the results in a broader context of the overall marine mammal monitoring program implemented as part of FORCE's multiyear Environmental Effects Monitoring Program (EEMP).

- FORCE commisioned Envirosphere Consultants Ltd. and Dr. Phil Taylor (Acadia University) to synthesize the results of its observational seabird surveys at the FORCE test site, and to evaluate advanced statistical techniques for analysing seabird count data in relation to environmental predictor variables. The data were examined using Generalized Additive Models (GAMs) to characterize seabird abundance and to better understand the potential impacts of tidal turbines on seabirds at the FORCE test site.

- FORCE is working collaboratively with the OERA to advance 'The Pathway Program' to identify effective and regulator approved monitoring solutions for the tidal energy industry in Nova Scotia.

  • A workshop focused on data automation and data management was held in Halifax on March 4, 2020, and a virtual workshop focused on the application of passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) approaches for monitoring echolocating marine mammals in high tidal flows was held online on April 30,2020. The report generated from the PAM workshop is provided here in Appendix IV.
  • Work with DeepSense (Dalhousie University)  to automate the post-processing of hydroacoustic fish survey data was completed. This work generated a new processing tool called 'Echofilter'.
  • Automation of PAM data has also been completed, and researchers at Oregon State University have developed a harbour porpoise click detector and classification tool for application to Minas Passage called 'FindPorpoises'.

FORCE is working with academic and First Nations partners to advance the Risk Assessment Program (RAP) for tidal stream energy. This program seeks to develop credible and statistically robust encounter rate models for migratory and resident fish species in Minas Passage with tidal turbines. This will be accomplished by combining physical oceanographic data related to flow and turbulence in the Minas Passage with hydroacoustic tagging information for various fish species in the region curated by the Ocean Tracking Network at Dalhousie University.

  • FORCE has established a high-resolution radar network in Minas Passage and has stated to quantify hydrodynamic features in the region and build the tidal flow atlas required for the program.
  • FORCE has started modelling the spatiotemporal distributions for the nine species for which sufficient acoustic tracking data is available, and has started planning the fish tagging component of the program required for encounter rate model validation.