Environmental Effects Monitoring Program Quarterly Report April - June 2021

This report provides a summary of monitoring activities and data analyses completed at the FORCE site up to the end of the second quarter of 2021. 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. This includes supporting fish tagging efforts with Acadia University and the Ocean Tracking Network, radar research projects, and subsea instrumentation platform deployments through the Fundy Advanced Sensor Technology (FAST) Program. Finally, the report presents details regarding future research and monitoring efforts at the FORCE test site. Due to the ongoing risk of COVID-19 transmission, marine operations are being conducted following guidelines with respect to social distancing and the use of face masks that were developed in consultation with information provided by NS public health. This includes work in support of the 2021 EEMP and the RAP program.

Key updates in this report include:

- In the first quarter of 2021, Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) Consulting Ltd. provided their 4th year final report of harbour porpoise monitoring at the FORCE test site using C-PODs. The report describes the results of C-POD deployments #11-12 (August 2019-September 2020), and places the results in the broader context of the overall marine mammal monitoring program implemented as part of FORCE's multiyear Environmental Effects Monitoring Program (EEMP).

-FORCE submitted its 2021-2023 proposed EEMP to regulators earlier this year and is awaiting feedback. The 2021-2023 EEMP is designed to prepare for effects testing with the deployment of operational turbines, and adheres to the principles of adaptive management by evaluating existing datasets to ensure appropriate monitoring approaches are being implemented.

-FORCE is working collaboratively with OERA to advance "The Pathway Program" to indentify effective and regulator approved monitoring solutions for the tidal energy industry in Nova Scotia. The Pathway Program team is working with Sustainable Oceans Applied Research (SOAR) to pursue automated detection, tracking and classification of targets from multibeam imaging sonars with partners in Washington state and the United Kingdom. Phase III "Technology Validation", is nearing completion. Sustainable Oceans Applied Research (SOAR) recently completed a performance assessment for imaging sonars (Blueview and Gemini) in both surface and bottom-mounted deployments using a series of known targets.

-FORCE is also working with academic and First Nations partners to advance the Risk Assessment Program (RAP) for tidal stream energy. In partnership with FORCE, the Mi'kmaw Conservative Group (MCG) has commenced the fish tagging component of the program  that is required for encounter rate model validation.