Quantifying fish-turbine interactions using new VEMCO tagging technology

Principal Investigators:

Dr. Michael Stokesbury, Acadia University; VEMCO Nova Scotia

Start Date: October 2017

End Date: December 2019

Industry regulators, in particular DFO, are seeking credible evidence of effects of turbine installations on migratory fish populations and marine mammals that occupy Minas Passage, including the FORCE test site. The proposed project will test and employ new innovative acoustic fish tagging technology developed by VEMCO, a Nova Scotian company.

To date, acoustic tags used to study fish movement in Minas Passage are effective up to current speeds of ~2 m/s. However, at higher speeds (2 m/s to < 6 m/s), higher ambient acoustic noise levels often interrupt the ping train and the tag is not decoded by the receiver. To address this, VEMCO has developed new high residency (HR) acoustic tags that are expected to be much more effective in noisy, high-current environments.

This project will determine fish overlap and interaction with turbines to provide information critical to the proper calculation of effects at the individual (iBOF Atlantic Salmon) and population level (Alewife, Striped Bass, Atlantic Sturgeon). This information will be critical for regulators, such as DFO and the Department of the Environment, who must weigh the environmental costs and benefits of tidal power development.