Fish and wildlife agencies want some questions answered before in-lake wind turbines become regular fixtures on Lake Erie.
The Great Lakes Fisheries Commission’s Lake Erie Committee released a position paper earlier this year raising concerns about the electricity-generating units, which, though given the go-ahead in recent legislation, haven’t been built yet.
Although the units are used in Europe, the committee is concerned that much of the research cited is associated with salt-water environments. Noise and vibration, both during construction and long tern, and the effects of the electromagnetic field generated by wires are cited as potential issues.
Concerns were also raised regarding their potential to change Lake Erie’s currents, which could conceivably affect temperatures, deposit silt in fish spawning areas, and impact walleye migration routes. Recommendations include careful consideration of proposed sites and banning the units from being erected close to important fish habitats. The group also requested a monitoring programme and notice regarding any potential sites.
Dr. Terry Quinney, OFAH manager of fish and wildlife services said answering questions up front is important, not only regarding the effects on fish behaviour, but also on their impact on anglers and traditional fishing areas. He also wants assurances that turbines wouldn’t impact migratory routes and staging areas.