January 12, 2022 — The following was released by the Fisheries Survival Fund:
Today, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced that it will hold a wind lease auction for 480,000 acres of ocean in the New York Bight region of the Atlantic. In public comments submitted late last week, the Fisheries Survival Fund (FSF), which represents the vast majority of full-time Atlantic sea scallop fishers, called on federal regulators to create a ” adaptive and proactive mitigation plan” that will allow both fisheries and offshore wind to thrive.
“There is no doubt that the proliferation of new turbine arrays will have adverse effects on the scallop fishery and other fisheries,” the FSF wrote. “Wind farms will change and demonstrably change ocean ecosystems. The goal of mitigation should be to strike a balance that ensures mutual prosperity, not just an uneasy zero-sum coexistence.
The Atlantic sea scallop fishery is the most valuable federally managed wild fishery in the United States, worth $570 million in off-vessel value and $746 million in total processed value. 2019. FSF comments were sent to BOEM in response to a request. for more information on Offshore Wind Fisheries Mitigation.
Through 15 pages of detailed recommendations, the FSF called on BOEM to take a flexible, long-term approach to reducing impacts on scallops, which are extremely sensitive to changes in the ocean environment. This approach should ensure “consistent and meaningful coordination between fishing communities, developers, state agencies, and federal regulators.” BOEM should also identify high-risk areas for protection and require baseline surveys to be conducted immediately.
While the FSF supports a comprehensive compensation plan that addresses direct and indirect losses to scallop harvesters, the top priority should be to avoid and mitigate these losses from the outset.
The FSF wrote that BOEM should “ensure that the fishing community and the technical fisheries community are able to work collaboratively with wind developers”. They urged BOEM to work with the technical plan development teams of fisheries management councils “who are experts in the conservation and management of the specific fisheries resources under their jurisdiction”. They noted that facilitated workshops “can be useful if they are interactive and not just listening sessions”, and expressed concern that “developers doing simple desktop exercises to just tick a NEPA box are neither sufficient to mitigate impacts globally nor to offset fisheries comprehensively and accurately.”
The comments also detail the scallop industry’s proactive approach to research and management that has taken the scallop from a low point in the 1990s to one of the nation’s most lucrative fisheries today. . The FSF has called on offshore wind developers to support scallop research through research grants and access and logistical support to marine scientists.
“Just as scallop fishermen have made sacrifices to mitigate their negative effects on the fishery years ago, the strategy proposed here by the FSF may require sacrifices on the part of the [offshore wind] developers who want to operate and will change ecosystems, in the ocean commons,” the FSF wrote.
Read the FSF’s full commentary on offshore wind fishing mitigation here.
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