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Recreational fishermen weigh in on Atlantic Shores’ plans for offshore wind turbines

During Atlantic Shores’ second meeting with recreational fishermen on Wednesday, Jan. 27 concerning its plans to build a wind farm on a lease off Long Beach Island and parts south to Atlantic City, there was still no word on how many wind turbines the company plans to build.

Doug Copeland, development manager for Atlantic Shores, said leasing the 183,353 acres on the Outer Continental Shelf from the U.S. Department of the Interior was just the beginning for EDF and Shell New Energies as they work toward bringing renewable wind energy to New Jersey. The companies have many hurdles to jump through, including state and federal marine and environmental agencies. Part of that process is to meet with both recreational and commercial fishermen in hopes of mediating any impacts to those vital food and tourist industries.

The closest western, or in-shore, boundary of the lease is 10 miles from Barnegat Light and 9 miles from Holgate. The lease area has the potential to generate 3 gigawatts of offshore wind. Atlantic Shores plans to start onshore construction of substations in 2024 and offshore construction by 2025. Site survey work, including... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

During Atlantic Shores’ second meeting with recreational fishermen on Wednesday, Jan. 27 concerning its plans to build a wind farm on a lease off Long Beach Island and parts south to Atlantic City, there was still no word on how many wind turbines the company plans to build.

Doug Copeland, development manager for Atlantic Shores, said leasing the 183,353 acres on the Outer Continental Shelf from the U.S. Department of the Interior was just the beginning for EDF and Shell New Energies as they work toward bringing renewable wind energy to New Jersey. The companies have many hurdles to jump through, including state and federal marine and environmental agencies. Part of that process is to meet with both recreational and commercial fishermen in hopes of mediating any impacts to those vital food and tourist industries.

The closest western, or in-shore, boundary of the lease is 10 miles from Barnegat Light and 9 miles from Holgate. The lease area has the potential to generate 3 gigawatts of offshore wind. Atlantic Shores plans to start onshore construction of substations in 2024 and offshore construction by 2025. Site survey work, including geophysical and weather buoy studies, is continuing.

What Atlantic Shores prepared for the virtual meeting was maps of the sea floor, including wrecks located on the bottom and typography of the sea bed, such as lumps and ridges where fish tend to aggregate. Two of the concerns of fishermen were whether wind turbines would impact wreck fishing and whether cables would disturb and reconfigure the sea bottom.

The goal of Atlantic Shores is to have the most complete list of concerns from both recreational and commercial fisheries. Capt. Adam Nowalsky, Atlantic Shores liaison to the recreational fisheries, said there were other areas of concern he has pinpointed: EMF (electric magnetic fields from cables) affecting some types of fish, habitat concerns, transiting through the wind farm, navigation problems with radar bouncing off the blades of the turbines, cable burial and shifting sands over cable sites, anchoring within the lease site, avoiding wrecks and naturally occurring corals.

Also in on the discussion was Capt. Kevin Wark, liaison to the commercial fisheries. He wanted to hear from bait and tackle shop owners and charter boat captains. Both Wark and Nowalsky are making themselves available for those discussions.

Fisherman Mike Shepherd asked about EMF effects on bottom-dwelling fish such as flounder and sea bass. Jennifer Daniels, development director for Atlantic Shores, said species have to be electro-sensitive to be affected, and those two species are not.

“There’s been quite a lot of work (studies) done on this to see which species are affected, and it seems sharks may move around, but the type of cables and the depth they will be buried (6 feet) will minimize that,” said Ruth Perry, a Shell meteorologist.

Perry answered another question, on the effects of hurricanes on the turbines. “What if one goes down? Who pays for that?”

“Atlantic Shores is responsible. But our technologies show they can stand up to a category 5 hurricane. We have reports of ocean conditions, currents and waves going back centuries, and they are built to withstand that,” she said.

Copeland was unable to answer how many turbines will be built because Atlantic Wind and Ørsted (the first wind farm company seeking to build off Atlantic City) are both contending for the right from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to generate 1,200 MW to 2,400 MW of offshore wind energy. The NJBPU will announce its decision in June.

“At that point we will have a number we can share,” he said.

Atlantic Shores has not yet decided on what type of foundation the spinning turbines will rest on – either a monopole sunk in the sea floor or a jacket foundation on three or four legs, like those used on Block Island, the nation’s first and only offshore wind farm, which has just five turbines. Daniels said there is time yet to look at future technologies as well, but Atlantic Shores wants to maximize the construction of parts in New Jersey.

Tony Caputo from ReelMaxLife.com asked if the rocks placed around the foundation would be large enough to support new fish habitat. “The hard core anglers are all going to be about the fish; we care about the environment of fish. Lately, fishing has been good, and we’re worried. … The more rocks you put down there, the more support you get from us.”

Copeland said anglers are welcome to fish around the foundations, but not to hook up to them. And Atlantic Shores has recently joined with Stockton University on a reef study to see how currents and conditions affect artificial reefs. “Wrecks are charted and protected,” he added.

Greg Cudnik of Fisherman’s Headquarters, located on Long Beach Island, said he was glad to hear there would be more fishing opportunities. “Glad that recreational anglers as a whole are not getting chopped out in this process. We fish in a very diverse area, different from Block Island or European areas. Make sure that opportunities for recreational fishing continue. I don’t think there is anything we can do to stop it, but adding some structure around these is better for us.” He also suggested Atlantic Shores think about building a deep-water reef.

Arnie Ulrick asked how many substations would be built offshore and would they be monitored. Copeland said one substation for every 4oo megawatts is needed, but people will not be on the substations 24 hours a day.

Caputo warned, “In New Jersey in the middle of the summer, we have vessel crashes, problems, lots of people don’t know how to drive their boats. Who’s responsible to keep people clear? The Coast Guard? Is there going to be a radius of safety (around the turbines)?”

“The Coast Guard is out there all the time,” said Copeland.

“Capt. Vinny” asked if Atlantic Shores was going to do echo-sounding (sonar) all the time.

“We’ll do annual cable checks  and spot checks after storms, but these won’t be continuous,” Daniels answered.

“Can you plan these annual checks off-season?” Capt. Vinny asked. “There’s an impact of echo-sounding on pelegic fishes – it definitely has driven away tuna. Tuna stayed up north; they never showed up this year. If you can avoid June, July and August, that would help.”

Copeland said Atlantic Shores would add that to the list of concerns.

Copeland also answered a concern by another captain about the northern section of the lease, off Barnegat Light. “The Barnegat Ridge is not in our lease area,” said Copeland. “It’s 7 miles out.”

“The more south the project is, the better it is for me,” said Cudnik. “And stay away from the Garden State Reef and stay south from Ship Bottom – that’s better for the boats coming out of  Barnegat Inlet.”

Bob Rush, a captain and member of the Atlantic Fisheries Council, asked about monetary mitigation for fishermen. “What about the economic impact if the (fishing) industry does die? What happens to everyone in the industry as a whole? You’re not giving us any guarantees.”

“That’s a fair question that I don’t have an answer to. It should be at the top of the list – I get that,” said Copeland. “Any other places where there are offshore turbines, fishermen have not suffered. We hope to make the case, and show with data, that it will not have an impact.”

“You’re giving us all this info, but you guys can’t guarantee fishing doesn’t die. On our side, we don’t have a fall-back plan,” said Rush.

“This is why we are working with Capt. Adam (Nowalsky), NOAA, NMFS and New Jersey DEP, all different agencies, and coordinating with other developers (of offshore wind),” said Perry. “We will adapt and change as the process goes on. Science and research will make assessments, and we will have to adjust.”

“It takes two years for permitting. … There are many opportunities for the public to comment. … Once we have more detailed plans, we will share them,” Daniels added.


Source: https://www.thesandpaper.ne...

FEB 7 2021
http://www.windaction.org/posts/52140-recreational-fishermen-weigh-in-on-atlantic-shores-plans-for-offshore-wind-turbines
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