Environmental Effects Monitoring Program Quarterly Report July-September 2021

This report provides a summary of monitoring activities and data analyses completed at the FORCE site up to the end of the third 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, subsea instrumentation platform deployments through the Fundy Advanced Sensor Technology (FAST) Program, and a new research and development program called the VITALITY Innovation Ecosystem Activity Project. 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 Partnership with the Fishermen and Scientists Research Society (FSRS) and a local lobster fisher, FORCE conducted research on a redesigned lobster monitoring program. The study was conducted over two phases, each during a neap tide cycle in September to ensure trap recovery. Nine experimental lobster traps were deployed in and around the FORCE tidal demonstration site and hauled 24 hours later where lobsters are measured, assessed, and tagged prior to being released back to the water. The first phase of the study occurred during August 29-September 2, and the second phase took place during September 27-October 1. The final report from this monitoring program will be available in Winter 2022.

-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 completed the 2021 fish tagging component of the program that is required for encounter rate model validation. Additional fish will be tagged next year. The acoustic receiver array was recovered in late August to download data and replace receiver batteries. The array was re-deployed in September to collect additional data and will be recovered in December to contribute to tag detection data for validating and refining the species distribution models and developing species-specific encounter rate models.

- FORCE is actively participating in a new research and development program called the VITALITY Innovation Ecosystem Activity Project that is focused on integrating tidal stream date from the FORCE test site into the Canadian Integrated Ocean Observing System (CIOOS). FORCE and its project partner Dalhousie University have developed a cabled subsea platform that includes an ADCP for measuring tidal current flow, waves and current flow, a video camera for providing live stream video, and an array of hydrophones for testing the real-time detection of harbour porpoise. Once intertidal testing is complete, the platform will be re-deployed in closer proximity to the FORCE site for one year to test capabilities in the dynamic tidal conditions of the Minas Passage.