Energy

U.S. Fishermen Are ‘Losing Ground’ To Massive Offshore Wind Farms

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Tim Pearce Energy Reporter
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U.S. fishermen are pushing back against plans to construct offshore wind farms along the East Coast, claiming the large clusters of turbines affect navigation, regulation and fish behavior, The Associated Press reports.

“You ever see a radar picture of a wind farm? It’s just one big blob, basically,” Massachusetts fisherman Eric Hansen told the AP. “Transit through it will be next to impossible, especially in heavy wind and fog.”

Proposals for offshore wind farms never amounted to more than ideas before the first U.S. wind farm was constructed off the coast of Rhode Island in the fall of 2016. It was made up of five turbines. The push for wind energy overcame the high cost and regulatory hurdles that had saddled development, The New York Times reported.

Now, as new proposals stack up, East Coast fishermen fear what the encroaching turbines will mean for the future of the fishing industry. A trade group has sued the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to stop a 200 turbine wind farm from being built off New York’s Long Island.

“Fishermen are losing ground one a nibble at a time,” Connecticut fisherman Joseph Gilbert, who’s boats work an area from Virginia to Maine. “Eventually, it adds up to a very large piece of the pie.”

Wind farm advocates say the fishermen have more to gain from the energy produced by the new wind farms than what is lost through the new development and activity. They point to studies of Europe’s and Rhode Island’s wind farms to say fishermen are exaggerating the effects.

New Bedford, Mass., port executive director Edward Anthes-Washburn says the wind farms will create more jobs and opportunities for fishermen, like support the construction of a new shipyard.

“There’s a lot more in common between these industries than pulling them apart,” Anthes-Washburn told the AP.

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