NOAA fish study underway on New England offshore wind area

An autonomous undersea glider deployed in December 2019 is helping to map cod spawning habitat around offshore wind energy areas off southern New England. NMFS photo.

By Kirk Moore on MARCH 12, 2020   An autonomous undersea glider deployed in December 2019 is helping to map cod spawning habitat around offshore wind energy areas off southern New England. NMFS photo.

A three-year study of cod and other commercial fish species is underway around New England offshore wind energy sites, part of a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration effort to better understand how proposed turbine arrays will affect the environment and fisheries.

With universities and other partners, the agency’s National Marine Fisheries Service in December deployed a Slocum electric glider, a type of autonomous underwater vehicle that has proven highly successful in long-term oceanographic studies.

The glider’s instrument payload includes a hydrophone to detect the sounds of whales and of fish spawning, and an acoustic telemetry receiver to pick up signals from fish that have been captured and released with acoustic tags to track their movements.

The survey is covering an area that includes the proposed South Fork Wind Farm south of Rhode Island. BOEM image.

Now surveying the area around Cox’s Ledge, the glider is covering an area that includes wind developer Ørsted’s planned South Fork wind energy area south of Rhode Island and east of Montauk, N.Y.The survey is covering an area that includes the proposed South Fork Wind Farm south of Rhode Island. BOEM image.

Running on battery power, undersea gliders use a system of water ballast and pumps to slowly climb and dive in the water column, their wings generating lift and forward motion. With their long range and endurance, gliders can survey large areas for weeks at a time, occasionally surfacing to send collected data to vessels or shore by satellite uplink.

For this phase of the study, the acoustic data “will identify location and seasonal occurrence of hotspots for key commercial and federally listed fish species,” according to NOAA.

There is little specific information on Atlantic cod spawning in southern New England waters, according to project lead Sofie Van Parijs, who heads the Passive Acoustics Research Group at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass.

Elsewhere, cod have been are known to form large, dense spawning aggregations in predictable locations relatively close to shore. That can make them vulnerable to disturbances that might affect spawning success, according to NMFS.

“Biological sampling will determine the population’s onset of spawning and track growth, maturity, age structure, and other life history parameters,” Van Parijs said. “This information will help inform the starting date for our glider surveys each year. We will tentatively conduct these surveys from December through March this year and for longer periods in the subsequent two years.”

The study is underway at a critical time for the future of the fledging U.S. offshore wind energy. In August 2019 the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management was compelled to hold up its environmental impact statement for the Vineyard Wind project off Massachusetts, after NMFS insisted more information was needed about potential effects on the marine environment and fisheries.

Even before the agencies came to an impasse over the environmental assessment, fisheries scientists had been warning there needs to be more baseline information about fish populations around proposed wind power sites before construction.

Now BOEM is funding the acoustic surveys. Data for a larger study by the offshore energy planners, including potential cumulative impacts of Vineyard Wind and other projects, is scheduled to start being assembled by mid-June, with a final report scheduled for December 2020.The glider uses water ballast and wings to slowly ‘fly’ underwater over long ranges carrying its instrument package. Christopher McGuire/Nature Conservancy photo.

Ørsted is using the glider detection of endangered whales to guide plans for monitoring and mitigation requirements in the South Fork project, where the company hopes begin construction as early as 2021. Similar mapping will be used for planning the company’s other projects off the East Coast, including Ocean Wind array off southern New Jersey.

For the fisheries aspect of the study, researchers will tag up to 100 spawning cod with acoustic transmitters so the glider can identify spawning area. Other sensors carried on the glider collect detailed environmental data, to help scientists better understand the temperature preferences and habitat use of spawning cod in the region.

A new near real-time telemetry system is operating detect whales and fish, and the public can see data and photos as they come in from the project on a new public web page.

The project team includes experts from the NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Massachusetts Department of Marine Fisheries; The Nature Conservancy; University of Massachusetts Dartmouth School for Marine Science & Technology; the NMFS Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office; and Rutgers University.

A Fisherman’s Perspective about Offshore Wind

Paul Forsberg A Fisherman’s Perspective about Offshore Wind after serving 8 months as a Captain on an Offshore Wind Survey Vessel. Click on the below image to see the YouTube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rmu5zQ0OLk

This is a must watch for all of us. Could not say it better.

Win With Wind Tee Shirts

We have tee shirts with the WWW logo and picture of clams and oysters in the back by artist Stacy Posnett. See our previous blog post.

Inventory:

ADULTShort Sleeve   $30                                                   

White                    XXL, XL, L, M, S  (one each)

Dark Grey            L

Steel                      XL, XL, L, L, M

White                    XL, XL, L, L, M, M, S

ADULT  –  Long Sleeve $35                                                                                   

White                    XL, XL, L, L, M, M, S

CHILDRENLong sleeve with interior fleece, like a sweat shirt $35

Blue                       XL, L, L, M, M, S 

Steel                      XL, L, L, M, M,

The small children’s size is for 4-6 year old kids, and the XL looks like it would fit a skinny teenager (or a petite adult) – these are my guesses.

PLEASE SEND ORDERS TO DAVID and MONEY to JERRY (pay by check to Win With Wind)

This is just the Beginning of Climate Change

Corn crops affected by Texas drought, 2013 | Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Letter to the Editor in the East Hampton Star
East Hampton
December 2, 2019

Dear David,

At check-out in Brent’s Store in Amagansett, a wizened fisherman blamed state regulators for the fact that the tags he’s allocated now allow him to catch barely enough fish for his own family table. And as a New York Times headline announced, “The Scallops Are All Dead.”

While we look for local influences, we ignore at our peril the fact that it is a global problem.

This week, to pick one from a thousand stories, The Washington Post profiled Tombwa, Angola, where in the 1990s there were 20 fish factories processing tons of fish coming from the sea. Now there is one factory left. The fish species recently thriving there have collapsed in the overheated water. Trawlers ranging from distant ports are gobbling up what remains.

Ten years ago Bill McKibben wrote, “Climate Change is about whether you eat or don’t eat.” Deniers called it alarmism.

This year, as temperatures in Bordeaux reached 106 degrees, the vineyards were parched and wine production was down 13 percent. Corn production suffered the same fate.

In the American Midwest unprecedented rain bombs flooded the fields and destroyed billions of dollars’ worth of crops. Last year (or was it the year before?) multi-year drought destroyed countless acres of nut orchards that had been prosperous for generations in California. A recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate report predicts a 2 to 6 percent decline in worldwide crop yields per decade going forward, at the same time as population swells.

Sidewalk experts, including the entire Republican Party, still scoff at the science. “These scientists can’t make up their minds. One day it’s drought, the next day it’s flood! Which is it, they don’t know what they’re talking about. They can’t predict the weather next week, and they claim to predict it 20 years from now. Gimme a break!”

More people now understand that we should have listened to James Hansen when he was informing the American Congress 30 years ago about climate disruption. Imagine how far we could have come in 30 years toward slowing the onset. Still we dither instead of taking personal responsibility for the problem.

Drive down any street lined with parked cars and note that most of them are SUVs. Their growth in popularity has canceled out the benefits we might have gained in the incipient move to electric vehicles. We burn as much gas now as we did before electrification because mammoth SUVs use more gas than the smaller cars we used to drive, not to mention the sky parade of private jets roaring in and out of our airport. So much for self-regulation in the face of global catastrophe.

Demagogues and religious zealots around the world can turn men without hope into terrorists. This is just the beginning. The World Bank projects 143 million climate-displaced migrants by 2050, and stresses that this is a lower bound estimate, with the numbers certain to go much higher, perhaps sooner, assuredly later.

As we approach the 2020 elections, no matter how you have voted in the past, if you care about fish, or food in general for the children you love, remember that we have two parties in this country with radically different attitudes about climate change. Forget about the personal foibles of candidates that the media love to dwell on.

Remember that one party makes its living serving the interests of the fossil fuel industry. The other party is finally listening to scientists and young people who will inherit this planet, and committing to meaningful action. Climate change is no longer about 2100, Bangladesh, or polar bears. It has come to this: not just in the long run, but for millions alive today in America, including the fisherman at Brent’s, nothing else matters.

DON MATHESON

Friend of Fish and the Oceans

WWW is a friend of fish and all the creatures living in our oceans!

Even as the oceans are acidifying and warming at alarming rates, and species are migrating northwards, the opposition to off-shore wind energy suggests wind farms will bring harm to fish, or to whales, etc.  Healthy oceans spell abundant fish and are good for the fishing industry and some fishermen recognize this.

In our opening statement regarding the South Fork Wind Farm, pinned to the top of this blog it sta­­tes:

WILL THIS HURT OUR FISHERMEN?
After listening to commercial fishermen, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management made sure that wind turbines and cable will avoid Cox’s Ledge, a valuable commercial fishing area. In fact, existing wind turbines off Block Island attract marine life to them, imitating an artificial reef.

For years, researchers have warned that the increasing acidity of the oceans is likely to create a whole host of problems for the marine environment. Check it out: the evidence is already here.

One of the biggest problems is that zooplankton is shifting poleward as a result of warming ocean temperatures. The findings, published in the journal Nature, show the widespread impact climate change is having on marine ecosystems. Scientists have warned that while some species will be able to follow their food source to new waters, many others will not. Even at 1 degree [Celsius] of warming, species have to adapt because their food source has disappeared. As an example, read about the migration of stingrays that have wiped out oyster beds in the Chesapeake Bay and have moved to the Peconic Bay this year!

Here is something fun you can do. Go to https://poshtide.threadless.com/collections. Pick your favorite fish (or shell fish) design and order a holiday gift: tee shirt, slippers, back pack, pillow, beach towel, zip pouch, or even a shower curtain! If you are on Instagram check out @staceyposnett an incredibly gifted artist and designer and a big environmentalist. You can also order custom items which include the Win With Wind logo.

https://poshtide.com/

https://poshtide.threadless.com

Poshtide@gmail.com

https://winwithwind.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/screen-shot-2019-11-05-at-8.45.32-pm.png?w=955

Example of items on Poshtide with the oyster motif!

About the artist:

Bay Scallop Die-off related to Climate Change?

Publication: The Southampton Press By Michael Wright   Nov 5, 2019 10:25 AM

Nov 5, 2019 4:59 PM

Dead Bay Scallop

A massive and mysterious die-off of bay scallops over the past summer wiped out as much of 95 percent of the valuable and iconic shellfish in parts of the Peconic Bay system, raising concerns about the effect that climate change may have on the future of the East End’s most famous natural resource.

The scale of the losses, the scientists who have documented the destruction said, is so great in some areas as to be reminiscent of the devastation wreaked by some of the infamous “brown tide” algae blooms of the late 1980s and early 1990s, which decimated the wild stock and all but ended a centuries-old commercial fishing industry that relied solely on harvests from the East End’s bays.

The cause of this year’s devastation is not immediately clear, but scientists say that the arch-enemy of bay scallops — algae blooms like brown tide and the more recent “rust tide” — do not appear to be at fault, and other likely culprits also do not seem to be to blame.

What’s left to blame, according to one of researchers who has tracked the die-off, is a confluence of environmental conditions and the stresses of the scallops’ own biological cycles that may have killed the shellfish, even as they sowed the seeds of next year’s stock.

There is some good news amid the devastation, primarily because half the reason that the scale of the die-off is remarkable is that there were so many live scallops to start with — and they appear to have spawned before they died, leaving huge numbers of their offspring in their place.

Population Takes A Nose Dive
Surveys conducted by Cornell Cooperative Extension biologists last spring had revealed that the annual “set” of young-of-the-year scallops was enormous and on track to support a commercial take rivaling or surpassing those of the robust hauls of the last two years.

But when the scientists donned wetsuits and returned to their underwater survey areas throughout the Peconics early last month, they found the ghostly signs of an epic massacre: thousands of scallops sitting where they died, their shells gaping open.

“We call them ‘cluckers,’” Dr. Stephen Tettelbach, who leads the surveying for Cornell, said of the dead scallops, whose twin shells have remained attached and sitting on the bay floor. “Based on the cluckers, it looks like the mortality happened a while ago — a few months, probably. The pattern was the same everywhere we went — there were no freshly dead adult scallops. They had no tissue left in them. So whatever happened to them happened a while ago.”

A longtime marine biology professor for Long Island University at Southampton College and C.W. Post College, Dr. Tettelbach has been conducting bi-annual surveys of scallop populations since LIU and Cornell began an effort to restore the scallop stocks depleted by the brown tides that beset the bays between 1986 and 1995. Through the Cornell hatchery in Southold, the initiative released more than 10 million seedling-sized scallops into the bay over the last two decades in the hope of restoring the spawning foundation for the species.

Looking For Answers
Since discovering this year’s die-off, Dr. Tettelbach and other scientists have been exploring what could have caused the mortality.

The destruction of harmful algae blooms was quickly ruled out, because there were none in the Peconics this year — the second straight year that the destructive successor to the brown tides, a red algae bloom that scientists have dubbed “rust tide,” has been absent from local bays, after a 15-year run of increasingly dense blooms.

Dr. Tettelbach himself had pinned a large die-off of scallops in the same area in 2012 on the dense blooms of rust tide that killed what had looked to be a robust stock just weeks before the harvest began.

The second thought about this year’s event — a disease of some sort — also is being seen as unlikely, because the die-off does not appear to have extended to juvenile scallops, which the survey divers saw alive and in great abundance.

And the vast extent of the mortality could not be chalked up to the usual cast of submarine characters that prey on scallops like crabs, whelks and some fish species.

But there was a wild card this year in the form of an invasion of a certain species of shellfish-eating stingrays that have wiped out oyster beds in the Chesapeake Bay.

Thousands of cownose rays, a brown-winged creature that feeds primarily on shellfish, swarmed into East End waters in July and August, roaming the bay bottoms in schools of dozens or hundreds.

Dr. Tettelbach said there were accounts of the rays being seen in Hallock Bay, in Orient, but he has not yet confirmed that they made their way deep into the Peconics. He said the rays could explain the disappearances in some of the areas where large number of scallops had been seen in the spring, and now there are no signs of them at all.

But the species would not be easy to blame for the full extent of scallop losses this summer, since there were so many intact shells left behind as a sign that the scallops simply died where they sat. The shells of scallops set upon by the rays would be crushed, he said.

A Matter Of Climate?
Eliminating those considerations turned the former professor’s critical thinking to other environmental factors, and the warm temperatures of the summer.

Data from water monitoring stations at the western end of the Peconics revealed that water temperatures hovered around 84 degrees for several weeks this summer — an unusually long stretch of exceptionally high temperatures, and near what is understood to be the lethal limit for scallops.

In a typical parallel, levels of dissolved oxygen in the water were also very low — near zero at times — which typically will result in the death of any marine species.

But those conditions have occurred before at various times of past summers, and broad die-offs of scallops were not seen.

Dr. Tettelbach said his hypothesis is that the high water temperatures and low dissolved oxygen levels had set in early enough this year as to coincide with the weeks of early- to mid-summer when scallops are going through their first spawning cycle — some will spawn again in the fall — which can weaken them and make them more sensitive to environmental conditions.

“What I’m thinking is that the stress from spawning combined with environmental stressors may have been the cause,” he said, noting that if his hypothesis is correct, it would exacerbate concerns about a trend of warming waters. “We’ve had water temperatures in the Peconics over 80 degrees the last five years. Years ago, we never saw that.”

Impacting Local Economy
Word of the scientific findings was not news to area baymen, some of whom routinely do their own pre-season surveying to keep tabs on their economic prospects for the fall.

Many didn’t even set out in their boats in search of scallops on Monday, the first day of the season in New York State waters.

“I went clamming today,” Edward Warner, a bayman from Hampton Bays, who is also a Southampton Town Trustee, said on Monday. “The only other time I can remember not going scalloping on the first day was, maybe, 1986, the first year we had the brown tide.”

Among those who did go, many found little return for their efforts.

“I had 14,” said Stuart Heath, a bayman from Montauk who scoured traditional scallop grounds in Shelter Island Sound. “I went all around North Haven, from Margarita guy’s house … to Sag Harbor, around the moorings, Barcelona, all around Northwest. Terrible. We’ve had a terrible year already — now this.”

Wainscott bayman Greg Verity said he ran his small boat across to the North Fork and found enough scallops to fill several bushel baskets, but he was still well short of the 10 bushels that a bayman is allowed to harvest each day.

East Hampton’s baymen said there’s only a faint glimmer of hope, when East Hampton waters open next week, that there may be some scallops lurking in areas that haven’t been prospected.

The Cornell scientists conduct their surveys in the string of bays connected to Great Peconic Bay, from Flanders Bay in the west to Orient Harbor in the east. They do not survey any of the waters off East Hampton — where scalloping is not allowed until this coming Sunday.

Pre-season scouting has not given East Hampton’s baymen much cause for hope, either.

Mr. Heath and Mr. Verity said they’d heard talk of scallops in Three Mile Harbor, where the town releases thousands of hatchery-raised baby scallops each year. But that supply is often depleted quite quickly, especially when the harvest in other areas is poor.

On Monday evening, Mr. Verity and Sara Miranda were counting themselves as lucky while they shucked their way through the briny pile of scallops on a steel table set up in a trailer next to Mr. Verity’s cottage in Wainscott.

“I’ll sell ’em to whoever wants ’em,” he said, as he flicked the glistening white morsels of meat into a pile.

The scene was not being replicated in many of the seafood shops around the region.

“So far, we’ve got nothing, not even one bushel,” said Danny Coronesi at Cor-J Seafood in Hampton Bays, one of the areas largest buyers.

“I’ve been here a long time. We’ve never had this. Even on bad years, opening day some guys would come in with them.” He added, “We had thought this was going to be a great year.”

Comment from Win With Wind: Scientists quoted think global warming is causing this die-off. Are scallops the canary in the coal mine for the marine environment and when will all local fishermen understand that global warming will destroy their industry, not offshore wind? 

Trump’s Windmill Hatred

The following article appeared verbatim in The New York Post (not exactly a left wing rag).

Donald Trump’s windmill hatred is a worry for booming industry

By Associated Press, September 30, 2019

BLOCK ISLAND, R.I. — The winds are blowing fair for America’s wind power industry, making it one of the fastest-growing US energy sources.

Land-based turbines are rising by the thousands across America, from the remote Texas plains to farm towns of Iowa. And the US wind boom now is expanding offshore, with big corporations planning $70 billion in investment for the country’s first utility-scale offshore wind farms.

“We have been blessed to have it,” says Polly McMahon, a 13th-generation resident of Block Island, where a pioneering offshore wind farm replaced the island’s dirty and erratic diesel-fired power plant in 2016. “I hope other people are blessed too.”

But there’s an issue. And it’s a big one. President Donald Trump hates wind turbines.

He’s called them “disgusting” and “ugly” and “stupid,” denouncing them in hundreds of anti-wind tweets and public comments dating back more than a decade, when he tried and failed to block a wind farm near his Scottish golf course.

And those turbine blades. “They say the noise causes cancer,” Trump told a Republican crowd last spring, in a claim immediately rejected by the American Cancer Society.

Now, wind industry leaders and supporters fear that the federal government, under Trump, may be pulling back from what had been years of encouragement for climate-friendly wind.

The Interior Department surprised and alarmed wind industry supporters in August, when the agency unexpectedly announced it was withholding approval for the country’s first utility-scale offshore wind project, a $2.8 billion complex of 84 giant turbines. Slated for building 15 miles (24 kilometers) off Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Vineyard Wind has a brisk 2022 target for starting operations. Its Danish-Spanish partners already have contracts to supply Massachusetts electric utilities.

Investors backing more than a dozen other big wind farms are lined up to follow Vineyard Wind with offshore wind projects of their own. Shell’s renewable-energy offshoot is among the businesses ponying up for federal leases, at bids of more than $100 million, for offshore wind farm sites.

The Interior Department cited the surge in corporate interest for offshore wind projects in saying it wanted more study before moving forward. It directed Vineyard Wind to research the overall impact of the East Coast’s planned wind boom.

Interior Department spokesman Nicholas Goodwin said offshore energy remains “an important component” in the Trump administration’s energy strategy. But the strategy includes “ensuring activities are safe and environmentally responsible,” Goodwin said in a statement.

Wind power now provides a third or more of the electricity generated in some Southwest and Midwest states. And New York, New Jersey and other Eastern states already are joining Massachusetts in planning for wind-generated electricity.

Along with the US shale oil boom, the rise in wind and solar is helping cushion oil supply shocks like the recent attack on Saudi oil facilities.

But the Interior Department’s pause on the Vineyard Wind project sent a chill through many of the backers of the offshore wind boom. Critics contrast it with the Republican administration’s moves to open up offshore and Arctic areas to oil and gas development, despite strong environmental concerns.

“That I think is sort of a new bar,” for the federal government to require developers to assess the impact of not just their projects but everyone’s, said Stephanie McClellan, a researcher and director of the Special Initiative on Offshore Wind at the University of Delaware. “That worries everybody.”

Thomas Brostrom, head of US operations for Denmark’s global offshore wind giant Orsted and operator of the pioneering Block Island wind farm, said that “the last three, four years have seen unbelievable, explosive growth, much more than we could have really hoped for,” in the US, compared to Europe’s already established wind power industry.

Given all the projects in development, “we hope that this is a speed bump, and certainly not a roadblock,” Brostrom said.

Wind power and the public perception of it have changed since America’s first proposed big offshore wind project, Cape Wind off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, died an agonizing 16-year death. Koch and Kennedy families alike, along with other coastal residents, reviled Cape Wind as a potential bird-killing eyesore in their ocean views.

But technological advances since then mean wind turbines can rise much farther offshore, mostly out of sight, and produce energy more efficiently and competitively. Climate change — and the damage it will do these same coastal communities — also has many looking at wind differently now.

Federal fisheries officials have been among the main bloc calling for more study, saying they need to know more about the impacts on ocean life. Some fishing groups still fear their nets will tangle in the massive turbines, although Vineyard Wind’s offer to pay millions of dollars to offset any harm to commercial fishing won the support of others. At least one Cape Cod town council also withheld support.

A rally for Vineyard Wind after the Interior Department announced its pause drew local Chamber of Commerce leaders and many other prominent locals. Massachusetts’ Republican governor, Charlie Baker, has been traveling to Washington and calling Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to try to win his support.

At Cape Cod Community College in West Barnstable, instructor Chris Powicki’s Offshore Wind 101 classes and workshop have drawn nuclear and marina workers, engineers, young people and others. People are hoping wind will provide the kind of good-paying professions and trades they need to afford to stay here, Powicki says.

“Cape Cod has always been at the end of the energy supply line, or at least ever since we lost our dominance with the whale oil industry” after the 19th century, the community college instructor said. “So this is an opportunity for Cape Cod to generate its own energy.”

On land, the wind boom already is well established. By next year, 9% of the country’s electricity is expected to come from wind power, according to the US Energy Information Administration. The wind industry already claims 114,000 jobs, more than twice the number of jobs remaining in US coal mining, which is losing out in competition against cleaner, cheaper energy sources despite the Trump administration’s backing of coal.

The Trump animosity to wind power has gone beyond words in some states, especially in Ohio. A Trump campaign official was active this summer in winning a state ratepayer subsidy for coal and nuclear that also led to cutting state incentives for wind and solar.

But despite the steady gales of condemnation from the country’s wind-hater in chief, wind is booming most strongly in states that voted for Trump.

Then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry, now Trump’s energy secretary, pushed his state to one of the current top-four wind power states, along with Oklahoma, Kansas and Iowa.

In Iowa, home to nearly 4,700 turbines that provided a third of the state’s electricity last year, wind’s popularity is such that Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley had a drone film him as he sat, grinning, atop one of the country’s biggest wind turbines.

Grassley had no patience for Trump’s claim in April that wind turbines like Iowa’s beloved ones could cause cancer.

“Idiotic,” Grassley said then.

On the East Coast, many developers and supporters of offshore wind politely demur when asked about Trump’s wind-hating tweets and comments.

But not on Block Island.

“We’re very fortunate that we got it. Very fortunate. It’s helped us,” McMahon, the retiree on Block Island, said of wind energy. “And don’t worry about the president. He’s not a nice man.”

Are Offshore Wind Developers Responsible For Fishing Gear Damaged In A Wind Farm?

The short answer is YES. It is the law. South Coast Reporter Nadine Sebai has been extensively covering the issue.

You can ask her direct questions here: Fill out this form.

In spite of the fears voiced by some fishermen, its interesting that major offshore cables have been in existence in the Long Island sound and the New York Harbor for over 20 years. Initial concerns about dangers to the fishing and shell fishing industries in the relevant areas have not materialized. Its strange that no one talks about this… Check my earlier post on this story.

Why all the fuss?

This is a cross section (a real piece) of the existing Block Island cable for their wind farm, consisting of 5 wind turbines that produce all the energy for the island with surplus energy for the state of Rhode Island. It is on my kitchen table. It measures 7 inches in diameter. It is similar to the cable that will bring energy from the South Fork Wind farm ashore.

“Carbon-free New York by 2040” is the overriding goal. Period.

If the urgency of achieving this goal is not apparent to any readers, just look at the most recent local news: “Higher tides force Shelter Island Ferry to rebuild ramps” This is a very real cost of sea level rise here on the South Fork! Check it out via Newsday.com.

And this is just the beginning.

On the other side of the issue we have loud opponents of the South Fork wind farm:

1) wealthy homeowners, with mansions on the Wainscott beach, who oppose any cable coming ashore in their vicinity, clearly a case of NIMBY

2) fishermen that have been whipped up with scare tactics.  I note that there are only 2 commercial fishing boats out of Montauk that fish in the Southfork wind farm area (OCS-A 0486, near Cox Ledge) which is closer to Rhode Island and Martha’s Vineyard than to Montauk.  From Montauk it takes 5 hours to get there by boat and 5 hours back.

For all those worried about a disruptive cable running under the sea bed and coming ashore somewhere, I would point out that a larger electric cable already feeds power in to Long Island coming all the way from New Jersey.  This dates back to 2007!  Like a giant extension cord, this transmission cable, named Neptune, stretches 50 miles underwater from Sayreville, N.J., comes ashore at Jones beach and has been plugged into Long Island for all these years without any nefarious effects on, or off shore. It is a 10″ cable and provides 660 megawatts.  

Likewise LIPA imports power from New England on the 330-megawatt Cross Sound Cable, which runs underwater from Connecticut. Two older cables, the 600-megawatt Y49 cable and the 599-megawatt Y50 cable, also run under the Sound to the Island.

Initial concerns about the effects on the shell fish industry were apparently not a problem over all these years.

Read more here:

The Case for Wind Energy

Wind off the coast of Eastern Long Island is among the most consistent in America.
The SOUTH FORK WIND FARM’S 15 wind turbines 35 miles off Montauk will not be seen from land and will provide electricity to 70,000 households.

DO WE NEED MORE POWER?
Yes. We risk frequent brown outs during the peak summer season. Our energy grid cannot keep up with increasing demand. If power is not provided by wind turbines, use of dirty fossil fuels will continue to rise.

WHAT WILL THIS COST ME?
The average household monthly bill will go up by only about $1.50. The good news: because wind is renewable and free, the cost will be stabilized unlike the volatile cost of fossil fuels. This is a small short term cost for a long term solution.

WILL THIS HURT OUR FISHERMEN?
After listening to commercial fishermen, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management made sure that wind turbines and cable will avoid Cox’s Ledge, a valuable commercial fishing area. In fact, existing wind turbines off Block Island attract marine life to them, imitating an artificial reef.

THE NATIONAL & GLOBAL CASE FOR WIND ENERGY:


Scientific evidence continues to mount as to the urgency of reducing carbon emissions before it is too late:

SPECIES EXTINCTION
Due to Climate Change, one million species will face extinction and humans will suffer as a result unless action is taken. (United Nations report). The Audubon Society supports the use of wind power and reports the greatest threat to birdlife is Global Climate Change.

THE WORLD’S FISHERIES
are undergoing tremendous stress as the marine environment is altered by Climate Change. 93% of global warming heat is absorbed into our oceans, dramatically reducing marine life. Acidification of our surface waters is spelling extinction for some fish and shellfish. Eel grass forms the base of a highly productive marine food web. (NOAA). Locally, our commercial fisheries that depend on eel grass for spawning and protection, are threatened.

RISING SEA LEVELS
Caused by melting polar ice sheets, threaten coastal communities around the world — including our own.

VIOLENT WEATHER EVENTS
Climate Change is producing stronger storms and more intense hurricanes that are wreaking havoc on communities with high public and personal costs, including loss of life. Our towns are on the front line.

PUBLIC HEALTH
Warmer winters are dramatically increasing infectious disease-carrying insects as they
migrate north due to higher temperatures, causing untold costs and hardship. Locally, the
rise in Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases is alarming.

By Cate Rogers