“I am a fisherman,” Darren Porter said. “It’s not only what I do, but who I am.” He is big and burly. In a bar fight, I would gladly have him in front of me clearing the way. He operates a weir fishery in Nova Scotia’s Minas Basin, on the southeast side of the Bay of Fundy. The bay has the highest tides and strongest currents in the world, which now presents a problem for Porter. The power industry wants to install giant turbines in the passage to Minas Basin, maybe more than one hundred of them, to harvest the wealth of Nova Scotia’s tides, generating megawatts of energy along with enormous profits. The turbines look like giant food processors, standing five stories high.
The Bay of Fundy is at the end of the Gulf of Maine, bordered by the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. When the tide flows into the outer bay, 160 billion tons of water rush in at a speed of one to two meters per second. Where the bay narrows to squeeze through the five-and-a-half kilometer wide Minas Passage, 14 billion tons of seawater accelerate to five meters per second.
For Porter, every tide is either, “Christmas, or a slap in the face,” as he puts it, depending on how many fish it brings in. When I visited the weir with him in June, he eyeballed all the birds gathered around his weir, then lit his pipe and said in a broad accent, “We got fish in there today.”