Offshore Wind Power is No Fish Tale

From the National Wildlife Federation

There are many reasons to support responsibly developed offshore wind power. It is a clean energy source that is good for wildlife; it is affordable, reliable and available right near areas of concentrated energy demand like New York City and Boston; and, it can create tens of thousands of good-paying jobs. But, there is one benefit that advocates are just starting to recognize – the foundations that offshore wind turbine stand on are creating hotbeds for recreational saltwater anglers.

The nearly 4,000 offshore wind turbines operating worldwide (only five of which are in the U.S.) offer ample evidence. Numerous studies from Europe, where the offshore wind industry has been booming for years, have demonstrated that the pilings that support the turbines attract a variety of benthic organisms – that is worms, clams, crabs, lobsters sponges and other small organisms.

In the case of Block Island, Rhode Island, the site of America’s first and only offshore wind turbines, a recent trip of National Wildlife Federation board members, partners and representatives from our state-based affiliates across the Northeast found the turbines attracted likely thousands of black bass, and a handful of scup. Within minutes of reaching the turbines, our crew was into fish. At one point, fishing with three rods with two baited hooks a piece, we had a total of five black bass hooked – and this kind of action continued all morning until our arms were tired. Rich Hittinger, a Vice President for the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association and our host for the day, said he had also caught or heard reports of summer flounder, tautog and cod in the area throughout the summer.

Deepwater Wind, the developer of the Block Island turbines, worked with local anglers to identify potential conflicts. Local captains were invited to England to hear from fishermen how their wind farms had improved or changed their fishing. Continuing to listen to local anglers will be incredibly important as we develop this resource. Block Island is home to five turbines totaling 30 megawatts in power.. With commitments from states like Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Maryland to develop thousands of megawatts of offshore wind power, there is a significant opportunity to create more fish habitat, but it must be done responsibly.

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