Thursday, March 20, 2008

Public consultations leave crabbers cool to wind farm plans

Recent public information sessions on the Queen Charlotte Islands hosted by NaiKun Wind Development haven't done much to reassure the crab fishery that they have much of a future.

With fears that up to half of the crab fishery grounds of Area A, could be lost to the proposed developement on Hecate Strait. Crab industry representatives from Area A and the general public had a number of questions for NaiKun officials, but for the crabbers the answers didn't do much to provide any satisfactory answers for them.
The Daily News featured the feedback from the crab industry as their front page story in Wednesday's paper.

By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Pages one and three

A wind farm project proposed for Hecate Strait could impact more than half of Area A's crab grounds by the time it's completed, say the British Columbia Crab Fisherman's Association.
NaiKun Wind Development sponsored two evening public information meetings on the Queen Charlotte Islands earlier this month, the first held in Skidegate and second the following night in Massett.

Geoff Gould, Area A Crab Association executive director, attended both meetings on behalf of the British Columbia Crab Fisherman's Association and was not impressed.

Gould said that while the Skidegate meeting only brought out only around 10 members of the public, the meeting in Massett was much better attended because there are two crab plants in the area and more concern about the impact the wind farm might have.

With crab fisherman and plant workers in attendance, Gould said the second meeting was much more lively, but, he said, audience members left frustrated after they did not receive adequate answers about environmental issues.
"There were were some hard questions asked, but all they did was deflect or defer the questions to 2009 when the Environmental Assessment will be done, so in my opinion they were evasive," said Gould.

"Their stock answer was 'wait for the assessment' but a couple of crab fisherman weren't too pleased with that. The people from the Delkatla Bird Society weren't happy with many of the answers either, and they're not happy with the style of the environmental assessment because they don't think there's enough research being done."

The Area A Crab Association engaged with NaiKun officials twice before these meetings, outlining where their crab gear is located in Hecate Strait, but Gould says the company has not said it will ensure wind towers are away from the crab grounds.

"If they do go ahead with this, we will lose about 20 per cent of the crab grounds in the first phase, and if the whole thing went through, we'd lose over 50 per cent of the crab grounds," said Gould.

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