As offshore wind power projects along the US East Coast increase, there are many unknowns.

There is still much to learn about how offshore wind generating projects could impact the ecosystem as the US rushes to build them that would alter coasts from Maine to South Carolina.
There is still much to learn about how offshore wind power projects could impact the ecosystem as the US rushes to reshape coasts from Maine to South Carolina.

And it scares some individuals, especially those whose livelihoods depend on the sea.
The managing editor of The Fisherman magazine in New Jersey, Jim Hutchinson, stated that “we don’t have the science to know what the impact will be.” “We’ll figure it out after we build it,” was the mentality.

With the help of numerous research, the wind energy sector refutes these assertions.

According to the American Clean Power Association, the federal government has so far approved four offshore wind projects for the U.S. East Coast. About 15 miles (24 kilometers) off Martha’s Vineyard, Vineyard Wind will erect 62 turbines that will provide enough electricity to run 400,000 households.
To power 70,000 households, South Fork Wind will erect 12 turbines offshore Long Island, New York, around 35 miles (56 kilometers) east of Montauk Point. Furthermore, the first of two Orsted projects in New Jersey, Ocean Wind I, will install 98 turbines roughly 15 miles off the coasts of Atlantic City and Ocean City and supply 500,000 homes with electricity. Two of the three offshore projects approved for New Zealand will be built by the firm, a Danish wind power provider.

These initiatives are in addition to the Revolution Wind development, which will have 65 turbines and power over 250,000 homes. It will be located about 15 miles southeast of Point Judith, Rhode Island. The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management intends to evaluate at least 16 offshore wind projects by 2025, and many more have been submitted.

Greg Cudnik, a party boat captain from Ship Bottom, New Jersey, a recreational fisherman, and the proprietor of a bait and gear business, remarked, “Everything is happening so quickly.” “Science is a process that takes time.”

Several effects that offshore wind power projects could have on fish and marine mammals are documented in a research conducted jointly in March by two government scientific agencies and the commercial fishing industry. These effects include noise, vibration, electromagnetic fields, and heat transfer that could change the environment.

The analysis highlighted the intricacies of how the structures and cables might interact with marine life, similar to many other studies that have been done. Turbines, for example, can draw some fish but repel others.

According to the March study, smaller, bottom-dwelling marine creatures, including shellfish and crabs, quickly populate vast underwater platforms. These smaller organisms then draw larger predators, like black sea bass, to the area. Additionally, noise, vibrations, electromagnetic fields, turbid water from turbine operations, and other factors could cause species to migrate away from a region.

Most report authors concurred that additional research was required. Co-authors include Andy Lipsky, the team leader for wind energy at NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center. According to him, the work aids agencies in defining the monitoring necessary for lengthy studies, and further research is needed to ascertain how offshore wind energy affects marine environments.

Other countries’ research is likewise complex. Crabs and lobster are drawn to the stonier seabeds that hold wind turbines, according to certain European studies. Others, such as flatfish and whiting, were observed to depart from certain locations.

Additionally, noting “knowledge gaps” on the behavior of the animals, the Biden Administration provided a $850,000 grant in May to expand research on the critically endangered North American right whales’ hearing capacities. The application was submitted “in favor of the rapid development of offshore wind,” according to a notice on the website.

Significant study has already been done. Since 2016, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has posted six or more studies on its website annually; some of these studies asked for additional research and analysis.

The industry believes there are sufficient scientific studies to demonstrate that offshore wind growth can be done “in a manner that is both economical and environmentally friendly,” according to Phil Sgro, a spokesman for the American Clean Power Association.

70 whales have died on the US East Coast since December, according to opponents of ocean bottom preparation. However, three government agencies claim there is no proof linking the two.

The fishing industry in the United States, both commercial and recreational, is quite concerned about how offshore wind could affect operations in areas where fishing has long been possible with little interference.

Commercial and recreational fisherman who have been interviewed reveal they have similar concerns about offshore wind farms displacing species on which they have long depended.

They worry that marine life might be discouraged or harmed by electromagnetic waves released by underwater power cables. They are concerned about their ability to maneuver safely around the turbines and about being barred from productive fishing spots they have established.

They are also concerned that unanticipated outcomes would result in lower catches and government restrictions on the amount that can be caught if fish stocks decline.

Furthermore, there is no law requiring it, despite the fact that some businesses have voluntarily agreed to reimburse fishermen for any economic losses. According to Meghan Lapp, fisheries liaison for Seafreeze, a seafood corporation with headquarters in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, “offshore wind is the single biggest existential danger to commercial fishing in the United States of America right now,” she told lawmakers in New Jersey at a recent meeting.

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