Company surprised at opposition to wind farm

  • Jan. 24, 2003 5:00 p.m.

The vice president of the company behind the wind farm project for Hecate Strait says he is surprised local crab fishers have spoken out against it.
“We are a little taken a back,” Michael Altman told the Observer on Friday, “it took us by a fair bit of surprise.” The Area ‘A’ Crab Association, with members in Masset and Prince Rupert, recently voiced its opposition to Nai Kun Wind Development Inc.’s application to do a seabed survey off Naikoon Provincial Park.
Mr. Altman says he was surprised because his company has met with the crab fishers twice, and in fact has changed its proposed exploration site after hearing from them. He also notes that the permit the company is seeking right now would allow it to do research only.
“The permit applied for allows us only to complete our site investigation and says nothing about construction. The investigation will provide better siting information and improve the estimate on the impact on crab fishing,” Mr. Altman said in a letter to the association. He says what Nai Kun wants at the moment is approval to do some seabed surveys starting this spring, using both seismic sensors and video cameras, as well as a survey of underwater marine life, to go along with the bird surveys are currently underway. As well, the company hopes to erect a temporary wind mast, to be in place for between six months and a year.
He says only after this research work is complete will the main public consultation process begin, and then the first people the company will want to talk to are the crab fishers, “because we know they know more than anybody about the seabed, the winds, everything else”, he said.
Mr. Altman also says that only five percent of the fishing grounds would be alienated by the wind farm, and that it is not expected to have any impact on crab productivity or populations, just on the ability to fish inside the wind farm.
He says it would generate 4,000 person years of employment during construction and provide 40 permanent maintenance jobs once built.
Nai Kun has applied to the provincial government for the permit, and hopes to see it approved within a few weeks.