Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Impact of wind developments on Canso fishery key priority for delegation to U.K.

  • January 17 2024
  • By Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter    

GUYSBOROUGH — There’s a reason why the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) is picking up the tab for the Guysborough County Inshore Fishermen’s Association’s (GCIFA) participation in its fact finding mission to the United Kingdom later this month.

“The core of Guysborough is still the fishery,” says Chief Administrative Officer Barry Carroll. “We’ve got to make sure we keep that in mind as we go into the offshore wind file. In fact, it’s critical.”

If that makes GCIFA manager Ginny Boudreau feel the spotlight, she’s not uncomfortable.

“Sure, everyone is watching us,” she laughs. “We’ll either be the first to have a success, or we’ll be the first to screw it up. But, here’s a real chance to set some best practices.”

As the three-day mission (Jan. 27-Feb. 1) approaches, a sense that history is being made pervades the preparations. Conceived by MODG several months ago, it’s believed to be the first such event involving provincial, federal and private sector participants – 12 in all – ever led by a Nova Scotia municipality.

What’s more, the economic opportunities at stake are significant.

According to the provincial government’s Green Hydrogen Energy Plan – formally released to the public in December – the target over the next five years is “to offer seabed leases for five gigawatts of offshore wind energy to help spur development in alignment with [our] climate change goals, [supporting] both domestic use and export of green hydrogen focused on safety, a strong and skilled workforce, research and innovation, and opportunities for public engagement.”

While no specific region has yet been duly designated as the province’s wind energy hub, the Eastern Shore – with its steady breezes, former sea-to-land energy corridor and comparatively sparse population – is the leading contender, say Carroll and Boudreau.

“The [natural gas] pipeline corridor comes right into Goldboro, and that’s our interest,” Carroll notes. “We want to get as much of the benefits from whatever we can bring on land. We want to bring that power ashore in Guysborough if we can.”

Adds Boudreau: “If offshore wind were to take off [in the province], I think there would be a larger chance of getting it east, rather than west. By ‘east,’ I mean east of Halifax in Nova Scotia. So, if we are going to do this [for the rest of the province], we need to do it right. We are going to be the first out of the gate on this.”

Carroll couldn’t agree more. “We are going to be meeting with the U.K. Fisheries Association and then Scottish Fisheries Association,” he says. “They’ve gone through it and we are really interested to see how those folks have dealt with it ... to help ensure our own fishermen make that smooth transition.”

Boudreau is optimistic. While she doesn’t think the lessons learned in the U.K. will be directly transferable, she believes they will provide a big boost to comprehending the dimensions and nuances of a new and potentially disruptive industry for the area.

“We’re at the beginning of something important here. We’re going to find out, not necessarily duplicate, what others have done in their own situations. We are going there to learn. What I am interested in understanding is how they [fishing and wind industries] have come to their agreements. How did that work? How does it work? What shouldn’t we be doing as much as what should we be doing? That’s going to save us resources in the end.”

After all, “Where the research and processes are applicable, why reinvent the wheel?”