Keep turbines out of our lakes

Windsor Star

In the excellent article, Jim Collinson urges caution in the proposed installation of wind generators in Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair.

He reviews a litany of arguments against the projects, all of which deserve consideration.

One area not included is the potential damage to fish habitat and fisheries.

The Great Lakes have been degraded significantly over the past two centuries and virtually all of the impacts (siltation from agriculture and logging, excessive nutrients, toxic substances, invasive species, etc.) have been caused by humans. Restoration has been underway since the early ’70s involving two federal governments, eight U.S. state governments, and the province of Ontario.

Two ministries of the province, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Environment, have contributed much data, expertise, and funding to the restoration.

Information on the ecology of the Great Lakes and their fisheries indicate the importance of in-shore waters as spawning and nursery areas for most fish species.

There is a direct relationship between water depth, dissolved substances and fish production.

Shallow Lake Erie contributes the most fish to the Ontario commercial harvest (annual landed value about $30 million; community value exceeds $100 million per year), and in many years, more than the other Great Lakes combined.

Although only 13 per cent of the surface area of Lake Erie, the shallow western basin including Pigeon Bay (one of the proposed sites for wind turbines) is the most productive part of the lake and is home to one of the most productive freshwater fisheries in the world.

Even more shallow than the WB, Lake St. Clair is recognized as a prime sport fishing area in North America.

These shallow waters are sensitive to human abuses and their fishes have responded negatively in the past. Several important species have been lost and some are at risk.

The Great Lakes do not need more man-induced disturbances, particularly in fragile, shallow areas.

Therefore, it is difficult to understand why the province would consider imposing further disturbances on these precious resources for questionable amounts of wind energy.

Joe Leach, Kingsville

3 thoughts on “Keep turbines out of our lakes

  1. Where are all of the North American Anglers and Hunters and all the residents who live around Lakes Erie and St. Clair who should be supporting the efforts of Jim Collinson and the other biologists who have been struggling for decades to save these precious ecosystems?

  2. Here in Essex County the offshore turbine uproar is very apparent. There are hundreds of local citizens, including a boater’s group and others, who have voiced their concerns.

    I believe they are just being ignored by this Liberal government the same as the rest of us.

  3. At the 2 June, 2010, Sault Ste Marie, ON meeting of the US-Canadian Great Lakes Fishery Commission, commissioners including the DM of the Ontario Dept of Energy will be presented with a unanimous position statement of fish mangers on offshore wind concerns. I believe that citizen advisors (anglers, commercial fishermen, scientists, etc.) are preparing a resolution on offshore wind. See the position statement and meeting announcement at www. glfc.org

    In 2009, Lake Erie fish managers prepared their own position statement. Scroll down to position statements at
    http://www.glfc.org/lakecom/lec/lechome.php .

    At http://www.glfc.org/research/acr.php, search for “Conserving Great Lakes aquatic habitat from lake alternation proposals”–it should read alteration–which was published in 2006.

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