ANNAPOLIS ROYAL, NS - Sarah Swinamer and a handful of protestors carried signs at the Annapolis Royal causeway Jan. 10 protesting fish kills they say have happened there for decades with no action taken by any level of government to stop it.
Swinamer, of Bear River, is with the Bay of Fundy Water Protectors group and said fish going up and down the Annapolis River have only two ways to get through the causeway at the tidal power plant – through the sluice gate or through the turbines.
She said some species affected are salmon, striped bass, and sturgeon.
She said some fish use the middle channel instinctively and that takes them through the turbine.
“They can die in three ways,” she said. “They can die by hitting the turbine directly and it just shears them – they live for a while and then they die due to predators getting them or they bleed out, or they become diseased because the strike actually lets in bacteria.”
She said another way fish die when they go through the turbine is due to the tremendous pressure that she said can rip the scales right off the fish. She said fish also die from internal vessel damage due to the pressure.
While Swinamer was certain that the causeway, and particularly the turbine, was killing fish and that sediment was smothering clam beds, the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat was performing its review of available data in Halifax.
But to Swinamer dead sturgeon washed up on the shore is proof enough. As for the clams, she said the sediment either smothers them, deprives them of oxygen so they become lethargic and can’t feed themselves so they don’t grow, or they become so weak they can’t close and become prey to predators like bloodworms.
Asked what she would like to see done at the causeway, Swinamer said she would like to see an apology made. But she said it’s too late to take out the causeway because at this point it would do more harm than good all these decades later. But she would like to see the turbines pulled out and the sluice gate left open.
“Then this area could begin restoring and the fish would return, the clams, the sediment, everything would go back to normal,” she said, adding that the tidal ebb and flow would return to something akin to normal.
Chey Swinamer was also one of the protestors and was on hand to represent the next generation.
“If this doesn’t stop, fish species will start to go extinct here,” she said. “There are already enough animals going extinct and that needs to be prevented. It’s not fair that the older generations are going to keep doing this to us younger ones when there’s already so much of a mess here. That’s why I’m here. I’m here to stop it. I speak for my generation because I believe it has to be stopped.”
Chey Swinimar carried a sign that said “We are here to PROTECT – Water is Life.” Her mother Sarah Swimimar held a sign that said “Stop the lies – Stop the Tidal Turbines.”
Other protestors carried signs that said “It is HORRIFYING that we have to fight our own GOVERNMENT to save the ENVIRONMENT,” and “TURBINES = DEATH.”
About a dozen protestors took part Jan. 10, double the number that carried signs on the causeway the day before.