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WORLD ENERGY GH2 – Environmental Assessment Process for Onshore Wind Energy Fails to Consider Fishing Impacts

December 15, 2023

Fish harvesters on the Port au Port Peninsula were finally granted an in-person meeting with World Energy GH2 today, following the company’s refusal to meet with harvesters and their rejection at the provincial environmental assessment level earlier this Fall. Fifteen fish harvesters and FFAW-Unifor staff joined World Energy in Stephenville where it was abundantly clear that environmental impact assessment (EIS) requirements fail to take into consideration commercial fishing impacts. FFAW-Unifor is therefore calling on the provincial government to ensure all onshore, nearshore, and offshore wind energy developments include impact assessments for commercial fishing.

While World Energy’s EIS does include comprehensive studies on birds, bats, other wildlife, plant life, as well as Indigenous fisheries, the company has no assessment on the potential impacts on commercial fisheries. This is a critical failure of the assessment process and alarming to fish harvesters who rely on the long-term health and sustainability of the marine environment. Impacts such as vibrations on lobster spawning and habitat, as well as impacts of refuse runoff on commercial fishing species, are unknown. In addition, the risk of an ammonia spill could have significant harmful effects on marine species and market perception.

“These are onshore wind farms but there are untold offshore impacts. This is of grave concern to commercial fish harvesters, particularly for those who primarily fish lobster, whose habitat is located nearshore to dredging, refuse runoff and vibration effects,” says Greg Pretty, FFAW-Unifor President. “It’s clear our provincial assessment process is woefully inadequate when there are obvious impacts to commercial fishing that are not being taken into account during this development phase,” Pretty explains. “We’re asking Premier Furey to ensure impacts to commercial fishing are included in this and all future wind developments in our province,” Pretty says.

FFAW-Unifor is not against new developments and job creation, particularly those that target green energy. However, any new developments cannot come at the expense of another. The fishing industry has been sustainable and prosperous for the Port au Port Peninsula for hundreds of years, before and after industrial developments such as the Abitibi Mill and Aguathuna Mine. It’s imperative that future developments ensure the fishing industry is protected.

“We will be sitting down with the provincial government in the coming weeks to ensure these concerns are understood and to guarantee that commercial fishing activity will be taken into consideration in all future wind energy assessment processes in our province,” concludes Pretty.