NJ’s Offshore Wind Fiasco P3

April 11, 2024 at about 7am, I got a call from a friend, “There’s a dead whale washed up on the beach in front of my house.” I had to check it out. I took some photos and videos and stuck around for about two hours to soak in the scene. While on the beach, I saw another whale (possibly more than one) breach four times out in the distance. I pointed it out to three ladies standing near me and they managed to see one of the blows, their first ever. It was exciting for them. However these very distinct and pronounced blows sent an eerie chill down my spine. The hair on my arms stood up like a porcupine. Was that the mother?

This wasn’t my first stranding event. For me it all started on December 24, 2020 when a dead  humpback washed ashore in Barnegat Light. I made a short video to document the event, view it here. Being a saltwater angler, I frequently fish alongside whales both inshore and offshore. But this event really got me thinking, reading and researching. Since then, I went out of my way to witness first hand as many local strandings as possible. Little did I know at the time that there were a lot of events coming!

In the Northeast United States, developers have spent billions of dollars on offshore wind projects to tap into the lucrative energy markets and access state-level subsidies for carbon-free electricity. However, the Bureau Of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS once known as NOAA Fisheries) have failed to properly assess the offshore wind industry’s impacts on endangered and threatened marine wildlife as well as the fisheries in the western Atlantic. And, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has failed to monitor and enforce. Still today, they fail to recognize the cumulative impacts which ongoing geophysical and geotechnical survey operations have on cetaceans and other marine life.

Offshore Wind & Whales

The string of marine mammal mortality events that escalated in the winter of 2022/2023 was alarming. During the early stages of these events I closely followed these events and attended local strandings; Atlantic City 12/23/22, Atlantic City 1/7/23, Brigantine 1/12/23, Manasquan 2/13/23, Seaside Park 3/2/23. I also closely followed the activities of the many survey ships in the region. I found it disturbing and strange that the many NGO (non governmental organization) pro-wind groups were NOT hot on the topic. They were strangely quiet for a long while. It took trending social media and eventually mainstream media to get them to even speak on the topic.

When Clean Ocean Action issued a press release on Jan 9th and called for an investigation, I was taken back by the many NGO’s responses which did not concur. What’s to hide? New Jersey’s Governor Phil Murphy (a big league offshore wind advocate) quickly said, “There’s no evidence at all that these are related to the offshore wind activities.” Well at that time and still today there is no evidence they were not related. Fortunately congressman Chris Smith took action and called for “an immediate, comprehensive investigation into the environmental approval process for offshore wind projects” by BOEM & NMFS. As time went on a large movement has formed demanding an investigation and a “Pause Until We Find The Cause.”

But, neither took place. And the whale death toll rose. So… Do the many whale deaths have any relationship to the large-scale offshore wind survey activity in the region?

Let me be clear. I’m not a whale expert. I'm not a scientist. I am a recreational fishing stakeholder that has dedicated far too much of my life monitoring the offshore wind developments, reading all of BOEM's offshore wind documents as well as many peer reviewed documents on the vast topics. I have attended far too many offshore wind meetings (both public and private). And I’ve read far too many news articles with regurgitated verbiage from state, fed and pro-wind NGO press releases. I wrote this, Part 3 of NJ’s Offshore Wind Fiasco - Offshore Wind & Whales, to share my deep concerns with others. I DO NOT support the industrialization of the oceans. I DO NOT support the fast tracking of offshore wind. Offshore Wind is not solving any existential threats which proponents claim. It is only creating a multitude of major problems in the marine ecosystem and these are only the early stages.

What’s going on with the whales?

In 2017, NOAA declared an active unusual mortality event for Humpback whales along the East Coast. Experts say they don’t totally know why whales are dying at higher than normal rates. Some seem scared to speak up and go against their own environmental community, most of which wholeheartedly support offshore wind.

Humpback whale strandings, Maine to Floirda 2011-2023 (‘23 through August).

Red bars show years of the declared UME.

NOAA’s Chief of Endangered Species Dr. Sean Hayes surprised many with his warning letter to BOEM that offshore wind projects posed existential threats to marine life not only during construction but throughout normal operations.  As Hayes writes in his letter: 

“risks occur at varying stages, including construction and development, and include increased noise, vessel traffic, habitat modifications, water withdrawals associated with certain sub-stations and resultant impingement/entrainment of zooplankton, changes in fishing effort and related potential increased entanglement risk, and oceanographic changes that may disrupt the distribution, abundance, and availability of typical right whale food (e.g. Dorrell et al 2022).”

“However, unlike vessel traffic and noise, which can be mitigated to some extent, oceanographic impacts from installed and operating turbines cannot be mitigated for the 30-year lifespan of the project, unless they are decommissioned.”

Dr. Sean Hayes

That is some really serious verbiage! Nonetheless, in this Jan 18, 2023 NOAA press conference on East Coast whale stranding (which I attended), Lauren Gaches (NOAA Fisheries Public Affairs Director) stated “to date, no whale mortality has been attributed to offshore wind activities.” But the entire presentation FAILED to clearly state that without a doubt offshore wind survey activities have absolutely NO direct or NO indirect association to any of the whale deaths. She basically spoonfed the national press who are not well versed on the topic and not willing to take a deep dive.

At the time Murphy, who has aggressively raised state OSW generation targets (the direct cause of the fast tracking) said, “They (NOAA) have said it’s been happening (whale stranding aka deaths) at an increased rate since 2016, and that was long before there was any offshore wind activity.” Well, that is not true. In 2015 there was construction activity at the Block Island Wind Farm. Here’s a Newport Rhode Island news article from 2017 possibly one of the earliest in the states to question the link between whale strandings and offshore wind. Here’s a document dated Aug 30, 2017 to Ocean Wind, LLC on Project Name: Denmark Oil & Natural Gas Energy (DONG energy is now Orsted), in regards to 2 geotechnical test cores at 39 separate sites in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 11 miles due east of Ocean City, NJ. And the Bay State Wind (DONG/Orsted) five year site assessment term started on June 29, 2017. To the best of my knowledge Bay State Wind did not have IHA permits and at that time there was not an IHA mandate. There’s also possible links questioned by marine environmental experts in Europe as well as an environmental blogger.

Two Unprecedented Occurrences

The waters from Cape May to Montauk have NEVER seen this many cetacean deaths (whales and dolphins) in such a condensed time frame. EVER!!! These same waters have NEVER EVER had this extent and duration of geophysical and geotechnical survey activities. EVER! There is a suspicious correlation with the surge in whale deaths with the increase in offshore wind survey activity.

Noise Pollution – Whales Are Sensitive to Sound

As I published (August 23, 2022) NJ Offshore Wind Fiasco P2, there are concerns with regards to offshore wind noise pollution. Sound is critical for marine mammals to navigate, communicate, feed, reproduce and much more. Whales are acoustically sensitive and evidence shows sound affects their behaviors. Humpback whales are disrupted by survey activity, and thus merits further attention and study, and potentially conservation action. (Cerchio Et al., 2014) But studies on large whales have not been done because few members of these species occur in the wind energy areas in European waters. (Kraus Et al., 2019)

Whales are vulnerable to harm from offshore wind energy, especially Baleen whales which use low-frequency sounds. According to San Diego State University biologist, because of their bone conduction, baleen whales (14 species including humpback, rite, fin, sei, minke) are particularly susceptible (4-10X more sensitive) to negative effects from noise pollution. The majority of local strandings have been humpbacks.

As per Sea World’s All About Baleen Whale Communication, “The repertoire of baleen whale sounds includes very low-frequency (20–200 Hz) moans, grunts, thumps and knocks; and higher-frequency (above 1000 Hz) chirps, cries, whistles, and songs. Humpback whales also produce a series of repeating units of sounds (up to 8,000 Hz) that are classified as “songs”.

Several studies on the effects of noise on marine mammals have documented a broad range of negative effects, from masking of signals and avoidance behavior, physical injury, cessation of feeding, and increased stress (Richardson et al., 1995; Hildebrand, 2005; Weilgart, 2007; Rolland et al., 2012; DeRuiter et al., 2013; Dunlop et al., 2018; Bröker, 2019). There’s possibilities of both temporary threshold shift (noise-induced hearing loss in marine mammals) and permanent hearing damage, loss of communication and navigation as well as displacement from habitats and migration routes. (National Academies, 2017). Section 1.1 gives an example of potential stressors associated with offshore wind being “animals could be displaced away from a wind installation into nearby shipping lanes”. This sheds a little light on the problem. 

A deaf whale is a dead whale!

While baleen whales do not possess the advanced echolocation abilities of toothed whales, they still use echolocation to some extent. Baleen whales emit sounds and listen for the echoes in their environment for communicating.

This study (BOEM Report No. 5586) states avoidance behavior of grey whales (a Baleen whale) began at sound exposure levels of around 110dB and levels of 180db produced nearly complete avoidance of the area. The study found whales changed course to avoid noise in their migratory path. Will other Baleen whales react in a similar way? In the case of NY Bight geotechnical and geophysical survey operations, emissions levels were/are at or in excess of 140-150dB.

In regards to the NY Bight, so far only pre-construction surveys have taken place. But if the irresponsible fast tracking of development is left unchecked, one day in the not so distant future pile driving noise could be a new major stressor for whales in the region. University of Rhode Island’s (URI) Dr. James Miller shares that construction is VERY loud, “sound is detectable 50+ miles from the site.”

This noise pollution even with sound mitigation techniques called bubble curtains can displace marine mammals 10km+ range from the construction site. The idea is for the bubbles to absorb and reflect the sound energy. But as per James Miller (bioacoustics export at URI) it only reduces the sound energy by about 10dB. Because developers know this isn’t enough and there is still a huge risk to marine life, a hydro-sound damper system was developed (shown). This is a photo I got from Vineyard Wind, but I could not find any details about them, their use or their sound reduction capabilities.

There are major concerns with regards to pile driving. And just like the survey stage, as construction sites expand and fill out the region, there is an IMMENSE CUMULATIVE IMPACT!

“It is absolutely ridiculous allowing international companies to blast our coastline, with no benefit for local communities or regard for marine life. The onus should be on the proponent to prove no harm, and the precautionary principle should be implemented until that is the case.”

Ally King, Surfrider Tasmania

This is a great quote from Surfrider Tasmania President Ally King but in this case King was talking about survey activity for oil. Surfrider whole heartily supports Offshore Wind in NJ/NY Bight with none of these “precautionary principles” of concern.

What Survey Work For Offshore Wind Was Done?

Survey work (off NY/NJ) for engineering and environmental purposes is characterizing the sea floor and the immediate sub-bottom profile. The exact work that each vessel was and is conducting and the exact equipment being used is somewhat unknown (to me, but must be documented somewhere) but this document details Geophysical & Geotechnical (G&G) Investigation Methods.

Geophysical Operations

These surveys use sensors that are mounted under and/or towed by a vessel to map the seafloor, identify physical objects and characterize bottom habitats. This equipment also collects information of soil type on and below the seafloor. Equipment used ranges from multibeam depth sounders, gradiometers (magnetic intensity measurement), side scan sonar (seafloor imaging), pinger/chirp (shallow penetration sub-bottom profiler, 0-5m below seabed), and chirps/ parametric profilers/sparkers (medium penetration sub-bottom profiler, down to 100m below seabed). “Geophysical surveys are expected to use several equipment types concurrently in order to collect multiple aspects of data along one transect.” The document goes on to spell out, the High-Resolution Geophysical “survey equipment produces sound that has the potential to result in harassment of maine mammals.” As per Table 2 (found in the document linked to above as well as included below; yellow highlight risk, orange highlights higher risk) Sparkers (0.25-5kHz) and Boomers (0.1-20kHz) operate within the frequency range which Sea World lists are within the vocalization frequency range of baleen whales.

Geotechnical Operations

These surveys collect soil samples from the seafloor and seabed to analyze and determine the composition of sediments in specific locations. This work, which is and has been active, includes seabed CPT (cone penetrometer testing) and types of drilling – boring work which requires equipment that is affixed to the seabed which captures samples.

While there was chatter on social media about seismic blasting and more extreme testing, these methods are not listed as being used. A double-plate boomer was used to survey the Virginia Wind Energy Area (Fugro, 2013) and recorded over 400ms (two-way travel time) of data which corresponds to approximately 350 meters below the seafloor. Another method, the Sparkers (Dura Spark 240 UHD Unit) puts out 200dB+ and penetrates deep (100m-1km) into the bottom.

Get Out Of Jail Free Card?

When an activity may reasonably anticipate an incidental take of marine mammals, an Incidental Harassment/Take Authorization (IHA/ ITA) under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) is applied for. And that is what the developers have done. For these ITA’s level B harassment (behavioral disturbance) is anticipated and authorized; however, no (level A harassment) injury and no mortality is permitted.

  • Incidental Take Authorization for Atlantic Shores – As per the application, “Because Atlantic Shores proposes to use survey equipment that will operate below 180 kilohertz (kHz) we are requesting an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) for the taking of marine mammals by Level B acoustic harassment as defined by the MMPA”
  • Incidental Take Authorization for Ocean Wind – As per the application, “Both NOAA and BOEM have advised that the deployment of HRG survey equipment including the use of sound-producing equipment operating below 200 kHz (e.g., sub-bottom profilers) has the potential to cause acoustic harassment to marine species, in particular marine mammals.

“Installing piles using impact and vibratory pile driving and site characterization surveys may result in the incidental take, by Level A harassment and/or Level B harassment, of marine mammals. Therefore, Atlantic Shores requests authorization to incidentally take marine mammals.

In Conclusion

If you have made it this far along, it’s safe to say you are interested in the topic. I assume you too agree… We have a problem! The details are damning and offshore wind survey activity must be scrutinized and investigated.

I again commend Clean Ocean Action for standing up and raising awareness to the topic early on and staying on top of it. Too many well funded NGO’s continue to boast their blanket statement in an attempt to sweep it under the rug. They proclaim “No Link, No Evidence, No Connection” putting the blame on climate change, vessel strikes/shipping, plastics and entanglement (commercial fishing gear), all known causes of whale deaths. But they will never consider survey operations as a potential contributing factor of one or more of the events. If they aren’t a factor why request for IHA’s?

When evidence of a ship strike (blunt force trauma) is present, they want everyone to believe that is the definite sole cause of death. Failing to consider the other factors which very well may be the root cause of many mortality events is irresponsible.

The circumstantial evidence is alarming, BUT without ear bone samples/biopsies to determine auditory damage to the ears, the necropsies may never directly link. So yes the claim is true, “NOAA Fisheries has stated no whale deaths have been attributed to offshore wind activities.” But the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

What a radical environmental narrative to take over the oceans by way of offshore wind and soon… The New Blue Economy! Yes, massive scale aquaculture is in their plans and it is quickly coming down the pike. It’s not a conspiracy. It’s no longer secret and they are rewriting the laws to support the scheme.

Also coming at us point blank…

NOAA Fisheries is proposing limiting speeds for all vessels 35 feet or longer to 10kts off the Atlantic Coast from Massachusetts to Northern Florida. The speed limit would last up to seven months in some parts of the Atlantic coast and would extend up to 90 miles offshore. It’s terrible news for offshore anglers, but fortunately the American Sportfishing Association and NMMA is active on the topic. We commonly run to the canyons and fish with whales frequently. Healthy whale strikes are exceptionally rare. Also NOAA is pushing hard on a new proposal called the Hudson Canyon National Marine Sanctuary which is part of the bigger push, 30×30. An effort to conserve and possibly close 30% of America’s land and water by the year 2030. While it sounds like there are good intentions, misguided groups are calling for anglers to be denied access. To learn more here’s 10 30×30 Sportfishing Articles.

This all seems like a bad dream but it’s the new reality!

NJ's Offshore Wind Fiasco Part 1.
NJ's Offshore Wind Fiasco Part 2 which touched on the ocean, environment and more specifically the fisheries.
This was Part 3 in all about OffShore Wind & Whales.
Part 4 will outline topics concerning everyone; energy policy, economics and feasibility.

Offshore Wind In The NJ/NY Bight – Looking into the recreational side of things.

The deadline has been extended to March 13 (from Feb 26, 2024) to comment on the Draft New York Bight Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (DPEIS). Please don’t be afraid to dive in and formulate your own public comment. Here’s another link for more info on the NY Bight from BOEM.

Basically the document assess the potential impacts that could result from the development of six “new” lease areas (488,000 acres) offshore of the NJ and NY coastline offshore wind in the NY Bight. I’ve attend most of BOEM’s in person meetings (in NJ) and virtual meetings/calls for a number of years now. However BOEM has not held a classic public hearing. So when I heard about the public hearing on 2/20/24 in Long Branch hosted by Clean Ocean Action, a champion ocean advocate, I couldn’t miss it.

The meeting was recorded so if you would like to tune in, my comments are at the 28 minutes mark and I’m followed up by Jim Hutchinson at the 38 minute mark. The timer on the podium was broken so my five minute slot ended up being 10 minutes and I still didn’t get through much of what I had prepared. So I’ll include the entire write up below. An Asbury Park Press reported attended and included me in their recent article, but really didn’t share much meat. So I’m including my entire public comment below, most of which I did not get time to share. I encourage any and all anglers whether pro or against offshore wind to formulate your thoughts and submit public comment to BOEM before the deadline.

First and foremost, the deadline must be extended or better yet canceled altogether. The speed of development is outpacing the speed of science and the needs of the sea. Top scientists are working in these topics and acknowledge vital data gaps with regards to potential impacts.

There’s so many massive topics; however, I will stay in my lane with regards to fishing… 

The offshore waters of the NY Bight (NYB) have long supported populations of coastal fishery resources (CFR), highly migratory fish species (HMS; e.g., tunas, billfish, mahi mahi, sharks) and many fisheries that target them. Serving as a migratory corridor for numerous CFR and  HMS (Galuardi and Lutcavage, 2012; Vaudo et al., 2016; Kohler and Turner, 2019), NYB is ecologically-important and contains Essential Fish Habitat (EFH; i.e., the waters and substrate necessary for spawning, feeding, and growth to maturity) for many economically important species as well as a handful of endangered and critically endangered species.

1) Recreational Fishing Contributions 

NYB also contains historical fishing grounds for iconic species and supports an extensive HMS recreational fishery in which thousands (NJ/NY Private Boat 6927, including charter/head boat the total is 7779; 2022 NOAA Fisheries HMS SAFE Report) of vessels participate each year. In 2021 recreational anglers in New Jersey and New York contributed $4.2Billion in economic output and supported 28,290 jobs. (Southwick, 2021) Imagine the updated numbers due to inflation. 

A large portion of this recreational fishing effort occurs within popular fishing areas that have been leased for offshore wind development. The diversity of the rich fisheries and the threat from offshore wind development’s impacts are not bound by lease area borders. The Socio-Economic Impact of OCS Wind Energy Development on Fisheries in the US Atlantic predates the NYB Leases. Therefore the economic impacts as well as a cumulative analysis of impacts to the fisheries must be completed for the entire region. There must be a comprehensive assessment of baseline recreational fishing effort for both coastal CFR & HMS in NYB and the associated Wind Energy Areas.

At the recent NYB Draft PEIS BOEM public meeting (Feb 8th in Toms River) I reviewed the recreational fishing hand out and poster (3.6.1-22). I questioned subject matter expert Brandon Jensen (Fisheries Biologist at BOEM), Why is the recreational fishing industry which I am part of largely left out in Section 3.6.1?

3.6.1-38: “Based on NMFS data, there is no substantial for-hire recreational fishing activity in any of the six lease areas.” This is far from true. And due to this oversight Table 3.6.1-16 misrepresents the small business revenue from inside the NYB lease areas. The fishing hot spots known as the Resor, Atlantic Princess, Chicken Canyon, Triple Wrecks and the Corvallis, The Star, 20/30 Fm Curve, among others are all in the same area. Large fleets of 50-100+ recreational private vessels commonly congregate in small areas when tuna fishing. These same areas are popular sharking, mahi, cod and sea bass fishing areas. I can somewhat agree with “the most impacted species includes cod in OCS-A 0544 (NMFS 2023h) and bluefin tuna, red hake, and black sea bass in OCS-A 0538 (NMFS 2023j).” However the chart (3.6.1-22) poorly represents the recreational fishing effort with a long fishing history in the NYB and more specifically in the lease areas. There’s more effort at the hot spots mentioned (in and around the NYB lease areas) than the Barnegat Ridge (also a fishing hot spot) which is painted with significantly more fishing effort.

In blue OCS-A 0538 is better known as owned by Attentive Energy. This 131.7 square mile lease area is located 42 miles east of Barnegat Inlet and 54 miles south of Fire Island Inlet, NY. It is the summertime tuna fishing mid-shore grounds in addition to home of a number of prominent wreck sites.

There are major data gaps that the PEIS must consider. Recreation catch and effort data is severely lacking and there is little to no spatial data collected for recreational private boat anglers. MRIP through APAIS (Access Point Angler Intercept Surveys) collect catch per trip data do not record specific fishing spot/location data, only the location of the intercept and the general area of fishing such as shore, private, for-hire. NOAA’s own study finds their estimates are way off and their program needs an overhaul. The lack of information on recreational fishing does not constitute a free pass for evaluating PRIVATE RECREATIONAL fishing impacts occurring in the leases. 

The state and feds largely do not know exactly where private anglers fish and do not know where these same boats transit unless monitoring AIS which the majority of private boats do not have. To learn more about this I believe that there must be work done now similar to what URI/CRMC/RISA did to determine where anglers are fishing and where anglers are from, but must look at the broader area to obtain private recreation fishing effort in federal waters.

BOEM must formulate recreational fishing surveys (not MRIP)  that directly obtain recreational fishing information (even if qualitative) to help characterize the fishing activity within the lease areas.  To do this, developers should be required to collect data (survey and engage with the recreational fishing community). This engagement must come with significant oversight so that developers can’t just check a box by doing nothing, like they do now by relying on MRIP.

Extrapolating private recreational fishing spatial data utilizing a fishing app like Fish Rules such as in Scott Steinback’s (Economist with NOAA Fisheries) work is suspect. Many saltwater anglers know the rules before they go fishing. Some anglers may check the rules via app, but the location when checking is not necessarily where they fished. It would be a different story if it was a fish catch logging app (like Fish Brain) that tracks the gps and needs a photo’s metadata locations to acquire position. But still there are not enough anglers participating so the sample size is far too small.

It is unfathomable that this amount of time and progress has passed without baseline data.

2) The Negative Reef Effect  Production vs Aggregation

Despite what Anglers For Offshore Wind promotes, the majority of the recreational fishing community does not support offshore wind. Many of the anglers I talk to have major concerns. Not all marine life flourishes in a hard bottom ecosystem and it does not necessarily help NJ and NY anglers. It brings a lot of uncertainties to the table, many of which management has no handle on. OSW is not a magical solution to help the fisheries, fix climate change, fix ocean acidification and the changing currents. It adds a lot of uncertainty and jeopardizes the ecosystem.

Turbines are offshore fish attracting/aggregating devices which greatly increase fish catchability. This is stated in 3.6.1 as a benefit to for-hire recreational fisheries however this is a very large issue that fisheries managers must understand and manage properly. The fish will come from other fishing grounds and these concentrations will be easier and quicker to catch leading to localized and regional depletion. Overfishing can happen fast resulting in a closure of the fishery and then economic hardship follows. Or effort is turned to another species which stresses another fishery. “Some fisheries could experience substantial disruptions indefinitely, even with the implementation of the AMMM (avoidance, minimization, mitigations, monitoring) measures.”

OCS Study BOEM 2015-037 – 3.2.3 Artificial Reef Aggregation:  Many aspects of the fisheries resources communities within the wind energy areas are expected to be affected through habitat changes and the introduction of new structures; species abundance, density, composition, diversity, dominance, size classes, and productivity (McCann, 2012; Rodmell and Johnson, 2005). The introduction of new structure is expected to provide new habitat for species to colonize and aggregate around, and the local communities are expected to change from non-structure based to structure based (BOEM DOE/EIS-0470, 2012).  Species compositions of artificial reefs have been found to differ from natural reefs and their presence can also affect the surrounding biodiversity, thus areas outside the footprints of these wind energy areas may be impacted (Inger et al., 2009). 

At one offshore wind energy facility the species diversity was lower on turbines compared to nearby natural boulders, indicating the artificial reef effect of the turbines was not as beneficial as having natural rocky habitat (Wilhelmsson and Malm, 2008). Background research did indicate there may be potential positive impacts, if these areas have exclusion zones the areas may act as marine protected areas (MPA) for fisheries resources (Inger et al., 2009). 

Access can not be restricted!

Another negative reef effect is the altering and possibly stopping of the seasonal movement of fish to the inshore waters. This could impact availability to the non-boat-owning or only small boat owning inshore fishing segment of the public. 

Inshore/nearshore anglers (private rec, for-hire, party/charter) will lose opportunity if fish are aggregating around OFW structures. They will need to run further offshore which adds time and fuel costs. I classify this impact as an environmental justice issue since non-boat owners are most impacted and the mitigation solution is being focused on anglers who have the means to access the OFW structures in a private or for hire boat. Some can and will fish these areas on head boats and for-hire boats BUT that represents less that 9% of total trips.  Land based trips represent the vast majority of fishing effort in the state of NJ in any given year and that mode (as well as the fishing tackle retail, bait & tackle, tackle manufacturers, boat builders and ancillary businesses) is expected to the bear the brunt of the negative reefing impacts.  These potential losses and the environmental justice must be reviewed and included.  

3) EFH – Essential Fish Habitat

The NYB leases are in the middle of the 20/30/40 fm midshore offshore fishing grounds which is some of the most productive fishing grounds and also home to a number of prominent/historic  wreck sites. The area’s sand ridges are home to abundant colonies of sand lance aka sandeels which are a quintessential link in the food web. They are not only forage to ground fish and pelagic species but also whales and sea birds. Anyone who has fished these waters in the summertime knows the show is better than Sea World! Based on documents which detail the strong association of sand eels to sandy sediment, sand eels will most likely be negatively affected by the radical change in habitats when hundreds of turbines and thousands of tons of rock scour protection are added around the turbine and substation bases. If and when sand eels leave, so too do all of the other species.

How can it be that no HAPC (habitat areas of particular concern) are designated within the NYB yet summer flounder spawn in the winters on the OCS and use the areas during all four stages of their life cycle (egg, larvae, juveniles and adults)? Many other coastal species rely on the Chicken Canyon and Hudson Canyon during one or more life stages and use the NYB’s lease areas. Also mako sharks should be of concern as they spend a lot of time in this area. As of 7/5/2022, U.S. fishermen may not land or retain Atlantic short fin mako sharks; however these water used to be prime shark fishing grounds.  It seems many of these are conveniently overlooked. A lot of these ecologically sensitive area (what I would call HAPC) and fishing hot spots were detailed in the very basic early work of Buchanan at the NJDEP in 2010, NJ’s Area of Interest – Wind Power On The OCS. Was any of this really basic stuff even considered?

4) Safety At Sea – Navigational Safety

NOAA Fisheries 2022 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation Report Atlantic HMS – Section 7 Safety Data must include updated information to include and evaluate the safety issues within the recreation fishery, safety at sea, fishing vessel risk assessment navigation through WEAs. From all documents I can gather this is totally overlooked.

While this is outside the scope of the DPEIS: In March 23, 2022, the NJ Marine Resources Administration was involved in dialogue with several other state/federal agencies regarding the need and appropriate size of a buffer between offshore wind turbines and artificial reefs and fish havens. Some of these reef sites have material right along the edge and commonly outside of the actual boundaries. There was discussion with the NJ MFC Offshore Wind Advisors which suggested 1-2NM buffer area to minimize damage to the reef habitat during construction from sound, vibration, sediment plums as well as safe drifting and transiting. With regards to NJ saltwater fishing, 25% of all fishing trips occur on a NJ reef site and 65% of bottom fishing occurs on the reefs. There is significant effort and traffic in these areas. To the best of my knowledge this was largely ignored.

5) EMF – Electro-Magnetic Field Cable Emissions

With regards to EMF there MUST be a threshold level of EMF emissions that are identified as acceptable or unacceptable for the marine environment and this should change in consideration to the water depth. The same emf emissions in deep open water that fish may feel, react and get up over very well may have a much more powerful effect in shallow estuaries and bays. 

6) Discharges/Intakes 

With regards to discharges/intakes (3.5.2-24) routine vessel discharges even within USCG regulations brings a hot topic of invasive species to the forefront. OSSs with open loop cooling systems must be prohibited due to thermal plume, warming waters and loss of fish larvae. This could hurt recruitment and jeopardize the sustainability of some fisheries. The NYB, the waters and substrate necessary for spawning, feeding, and growth to maturity.

In New Jersey, PSEG continues to pay compensatory mitigation for the fish eggs/larvae entrained/impinged through the open loop cooling system at the Salem nuke plant.  That money goes towards a host of programs that seek to offset the impact of that mortality.   Given the fact that we know many important species, fluke and BFT being just two, spawn in those waters or where their larvae are present in waters where AC/DC substations would be needed, BOEM must calculate mortality and execute an agreement to outline a plan to mitigate the impact.   A mitigation fund must be set up prior to construction with payments into the fund based on the economic cost associated with their entrainment/impingement.  

7) Cold Pool Disruption 

The NYB’s unique cold bottom waters support our diverse fisheries and must be protected. The use of “few studies” and “fewer studies” in Section 3.4.2-13 screams, stop and get the scientific work done before proceeding. “The new presence of structures and their impact on regional scale oceanographic processes and potential secondary changes to primary production and ecosystems is extremely important. Structures may reduce wind-forced mixing of surface waters, whereas water flowing around the foundations may increase vertical mixing.” “There has been extensive research into characterizing and modeling atmospheric wakes created by wind turbines in order to design the layout of wind facilities.” Obviously their investment depends on it. Why isn’t this same attention and resources dedicated to hydrodynamics?

8) Mitigation – Financial Compensation

Last but certainly not least

I attended a meeting in July 12, 2022 BOEM Draft Fisheries Mitigation Guidance Document Meeting and have tried to stay up to date on the process of this document. At the time the Fishing Tackle Retail, Bait & Tackle, Tackle Manufacturers, Boat Builders and ancillary businesses were completely left out of consideration for financial compensation in the event of lost income as a result of offshore wind development. Still today I believe this is completely absurd. Congress must give BOEM more direct authority to fund mitigation. The Economic Contributions of Recreational Fishing by the American Sportfishing Association in partnership with the Southwicks Associates (for over 30 years, the leading market research and economics firm specializing in hunting, sportfishing and the outdoor recreation markets) must be included in the DPEIS. The recreational fishing industry is an economic engine that is very much overlooked by BOEM and the entire offshore wind development processes.

DPEIS 3.6.1, 2-32: “Fishing could experience substantial disruptions indefinitely, even with implementation of the AMMM measures. The AMMM measures would compensate commercial and for-hire recreational fishermen for loss of income due to unrecovered economic activity and to shoreside businesses for losses indirectly related to the expected development; provide monetary compensation for lost gear or income. Other AMMM measures propose the development of monitoring plans or adaptive management plans that would increase data and knowledge that might facilitate the development of future mitigation.” 

Impacts very well take years to manifest and the fishing industry as a whole must be included in this mitigation package. FURTHERMORE, mitigation payments must come from top line revenue ONLY! They should not be passed along to ratepayers!

For the record I showed my writing/comment to Captain Tony DiLernia a recreational fishing liaison from NYSERDA (NY State Energy Research & Development Authority) at the AC Boat Show on 3/1/23. I asked him to review and asked, “What’s your take on this? Am I off base with anything? ” His reply, “No. This is a great write up. You have done your homework.”

Are you looking to read some more?

NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-NE-291 – Fisheries and Offshore Wind Interactions: Synthesis of Science

OCS Study BOEM 2017-012: Socio-Economic Impact of Outer Continental Shelf Wind Energy Development on Fisheries in the U.S. Atlantic

ICW Channel Marker Repair

Finally, the long awaited repairs to the ICW Daymarks are taking place! Today (Monday) late afternoon, the working barge was off of 68th Street area of Long Beach Twp around ICW #80.

The crew was working north of the Causeway bridge this past weekend and last week so it seems they are quickly making way working south.

I first reported on the topic with a blog post on March 30, 2019 sharing a local notice to mariners about the hazards. At the time, there were several unmarked hazards along the ICW from the upper end of Barnegat Bay all the way down to Holgate and beyond. To the best of my knowledge the ice flow over the 2019 winter cut/broke numerous decrepit steel pylons (Channel Markers) off right at the water line. It got worse from there.

Shortly after posting the blog, I shared a post on social media and it got a lot of attention. The next day I got a call from NJ State Police, USCG and Ted Greenburg from NBC10, all asking for more information. Ted wanted a ride out to see them so the following day I took him out to report on them. It all got attention and I expected repairs would follow but that wasn’t the case. Very little was done until now.

Here’s a photos from Timothy Brindley on 2/8/24, showing the work near the Causeway. This particular hazard caused a lot of problems for many boaters over the last few years.

Jersey Coast Beach Access Issues

Last week I got word about a beach access issues in northern Ocean County. Beach access has been an ongoing issue for many years but this time it has “new roots”. Due to a native plant growth, there is new concerns and possibly action coming down the pike. What’s taking place could set precedence and eventually take root on Long Beach Island. Before we know it a full fledged campaign with big money backers and radical environmental groups could spark up and then life as we know it is gone.

Listen Up Any & All Jersey Surfcasters, Especially those who utilize 4×4 Beach Buggy Access!

Seabeach Amaranth is a native plant to New Jersey’s barrier island beaches. It is typically found on the upper beaches, dunes and in over wash areas. In 1993 the plant was listed as threatened under the US Endanger Species Act. NJ’s highest concentrations of plants are at Sandy Hook’s Gateway National Recreation Area. But recently more plants have been found on beaches of southern Monmouth and Ocean Counties. The plant, Seabeach Amaranth is now being talked about and possible action limiting 4×4 beach buggy access is a possibility.

Brick Beach 4×4 Access In Jeopardy

This whole controversy sparked with the state and feds pushing local municipalities, in this case Brick Township to restrict access and even cease beach buggy permits. Brick’s Mayor Ducey shared, “US Fish & Wildlife contacted us and said we had to eliminate beach buggy access.” Town council said, “No way! There has to be another way!” Township engineer got involved with suggestions and basically a settlement. What is sounds like is to keep the beach buggy access/ordinance there will be a limitation on dates, required signage, fenced off areas and also constant enforcement of any violations by police. Ducey and town council did not want to make any changes to the beach buggy ordinance but was forced to give concessions to the federal government in order to keep 4×4 access. Mayor Ducey said, “The council agreed that the permit with the restrictions was better than eliminating it and that is why there is a new ordinance.”

For all that can please attend the Brick Town Council Meeting, at Municipal Hall on Chambers Bridge Road, Tuesday July 26th at 7pm. Show up to respectfully ensure the fisherman’s voice is heard to ensure fishing access in Brick Beach, the state of NJ and the entire Striper Coast!

Signage and fencing of the sensitive areas is the logical thing to do to ensure public awareness and access. Also it would be rational to provide an informational postcard when buying beach permits. But, cutting back 4×4 access from October 1st – April 30th to November 30 – March 15th is unacceptable! This cuts out the entire spring surf fishing season and the majority of the fall surf fishing season too. Also beach access must be protected and preserved by having thoughtfully worded ordinances. They must not be vague!

Mixed Up Finger Pointing At The Beach

The Brick Beach situation is the tip of the iceberg and what action the town takes, possibly pushing back fighting the state and feds will set precedence for the coastal municipalities of the Jersey Shore.

The state and feds are pointing fingers at anglers and their 4×4 beach buggies. But who is really to blame? Anglers are not fishing and driving in the high beach area and dunes. Those ones who should be taking the heat is all of those parties associated with the beach replenishment projects as well as beach maintenance!

Major Threats To Seabeach Amaranth

What are the major threats to Seabeach Amaranth?

  • Storms
  • Beach replenishment
  • Pedestrian traffic
  • 4×4 access
  • Beach Maintenance – Raking

All summer the Jersey Shore beaches are raked to keep the soft sand clean from seaweed and litter. This municipal raking at the foot of the dunes is the major threat to beach plants and it limits the natural widening of the dune. Also lifeguards and township public works vehicles daily drive the high beach line commonly at the foot of the dune to avoid beach goers. If Seabeach Amaranth was an issue on the areas of the beach where rakes and these vehicles travel daily why didn’t the alarm sound sometime in the 90’s. Why now?

This same area is where beach goers (pedestrian) use the beach and walk on at designated access points (most of which are fenced). This is also the exact same areas are where 4×4 beach buggies access and use the beach. The low and high dunes are and have always been closed off. Sensitive areas of beaches should be fenced off for public awareness.

Now we are basically left with two major threats; storms and beach replenishment. We can’t stop storms so the elephant in the room is Beach Replenishments! And what a co-incidence another round is slates to repave our beaches very soon.

The whole Jersey Coast has been re-engineered and fortified with little regard for the environmental impacts to fisheries, flora and fauna. When I was a kid, not many years ago, there were big pine trees on the dunes, lots of shrubs, vines and large grasses. There was once a living dune with strong and deep roots, as well as lots of animals. Now, even years after our “new dunes” don’t have a real foundation and just blow – wash away. The beaches were also built in such a way that the gentle slow slope profile natural to LBI was blatantly ignored. Due to this, any type of storm and mild erosion chews out the dunes and the event looks catastrophic and news worthy. This all plays into their job security and master plan of routine replenishment ruining the fishing, surfing and communities during and for a handful of years after.

So who’s really to blame?

NJ’s Offshore Wind Fiasco P1

Hopefully by now you’ve caught wind of the state/federal clean energy goals and the massive offshore wind projects. If you haven’t, now is the time to start paying attention to what’s taking place. These monumental decisions effect everyone in the state/region and beyond. On the surface offshore wind might sound like a dream but like everything in life when it sounds too good to be true… it’s too good to be true!

What started out with the 2010 ‘Smart From The Start’ initiative, things have really accelerated but not in the “smart” direction. Major regulatory changes, Task Forces (here’s the NJ Renewable Energy Task Force’s activity over the years) and executive orders (EO No8 directed NJBPU to implement Offshore Wind Economic Development Act, EO No79 established council on offshore wind “WIND Institute”, EO No92 raised goal from 3500MW by 2030 to 7500 by 2035) have amplified the expansion of offshore wind developments. Everything is and has been in high gear, seemingly reckless and rushed to meet these far out goals. However there is a very large gap between wishful (possibly delusional) political talk and physical reality.

Like it or not Gov. Murphy is offshore wind’s white knight of New Jersey with roots deep in the industry. His time at Goldman Sachs and term as US ambassador to Germany (2009-13) can shed light on his ties and the current ESG investors who are benefitting on the deals. His numerous executive orders have propelled offshore wind and have hog tied resistance from environmental activists and local communities. Nothing crippling activism more than Murphy signing a bill in the summer of 2021 stripping coastal communities of their voice and power, allowing the NJBPU (Board of Public Utility) to override local government opposition to offshore wind. Photo: Seth Wenig

Offshore Wind Energy Areas In NJ

For perspective on the massive scale, which is arbitrarily concentrated inequitable in close proximity to New Jersey… As of January 2022, there’s more 500,000 aches of leased wind areas nearshore the central and south Jersey coastline; Atlantic Shore (OCS-A 0499: 183,353 acres) and Ocean Wind (OCS-A 0498: 160,480 acres). There is also Empire Wind (OCS-A 0512: 79,350 acres) in the Bight about 20 miles east of Sandy hook as well as a couple not far from Cape May, Skipjack & GSOE (OCS-A 0519; 26,332 acres & OCS-A 0482: 70,098 acres).

BOEM’s Outer Continental Shelf Renewable Energy Leases Map Book

Later this month (February 2022) the next wind energy area auction will sell off six more lease areas totally than 480,000 acres in the New York Bight. These lease sites are shown in green.

On January 19th 2021, I attended the NY Bight Final Sale Notice Fisheries Stakeholder Meeting. [For anyone who has read this far you might care to] See these slides are basically the same as what was presented. And just like every other offshore wind energy meeting I’ve attended (and that is lots of them) the attendance was poor. Does no one care? Or does no one know?

Offshore Wind: Too Big, Too Fast

The theme of responsible offshore wind development is now run over by the threat of rapidly expansion. We currently face the risk of the largest ecological destruction of the century. Sadly the environmental community has turned a blind eye. Could the hush money (funding and non disclosure agreements) have something to do with their blurry vision, thinking and lack of voice?

It’s concerning that the poster children in the USA, Block Island Wind Farm, has painted a bad picture with a long list of failures.

There’s scientists working on important topics right. Would it not make sense to halt development until the works are completed? Also baseline studies must be complete. Unfortunately much of the reports from previous studies is either ignored or overlooked. This 2010 study outlines ecologically and environmentally sensitive areas along the south-central NJ coast and identifies conflicts.

That was NJ's Offshore Wind Fiasco Part 1.
NJ's Offshore Wind Fiasco Part 2 dives into to the ocean, environment and more specifically the fisheries.
Part 3 in all about OffShore Wind & Whales.
Part 4 will outline topics concerning everyone; energy policy, economics and feasibility.

Southern Regional Fishing Flea Market

February 11, 2023 – 8 am to 2 pm

The Southern Regional High School Fishing Flea Market is February 11, 2023. Like every years the event is held at the Southern Regional Middle School cafeteria from 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM.

Southern Regional’s annual fishing show is one of the largest and best fishing shows in Southern Ocean County. Both new and used fishing gear will be on display from a variety of vendors. There’s also hourly door prizes, gift certificates from local charter boats and items donated by show vendors.

Admission is $4. Children under 12 are free when accompanied by an adult. This is a great family oriented event.

All proceeds benefit the Southern Regional High School Fishing Club. During the fall of 2021 SRHS-FC entered 15 students in the Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic. The money raised goes to offset the cost of trips for students on the fleet sailing out of Viking Village. Funds also go to providing scholarships for four year members of the club.

The Southern Regional High School Fishing Club is the perfect place for younger anglers to start out and get a good first impression of fishing. And it’s also a great place where youth anglers learn and take their fishing to the next level.

For additional show or vendor information contact
Jason Hoch, 609 597-9481 ext. 2120 jhoch@srsd.net

Ocean Wind Offshore Wind Farm Meeting 3/24/21

I recently learned of Wednesday March 24, 2021 “Ocean Wind Offshore Wind Farm” virtual meeting hosted by Friends Of Ortley Beach on Facebook. Offshore Wind, more specifically the developments of Atlantic Shores and Ocean Wind are very concerning to me so I couldn’t miss the opportunity to learn more.

Right out of the gate the presentation was an advertisement, highlighting the same talking points published on their website. But some of what was presented surprised me. I thought portions was off the cuff and not factual. What it really comes down to is until the Construction and Operations Plan (COP) is published everything is shifty.

  • Orsted Ocean Wind will not have turbines closer than 15nm off the coast. Really first time I heard that.
  • Ocean Wind will not have any storage solutions onshore. Wind’s inconsistencies remain inconsistent. Atlantic Shores said this same thing and then a meeting or two later said they had onshore storage planned but no details provided. Technology isn’t there yet with both batteries and hydrogen fuel cells.
  • Ocean Wind will create countless new jobs. I would like to see some estimates. Because it puts a lot of jobs at risk. The economic impact of recreational fishing is tremendous; 18k+ Jobs (Table E2), $296M in Federal/State/Local tax revenue (PG8). NJ’s 5000 commercial fishing jobs (fleet, processing, wholesale) are in Jeopardy. Right now in the state Orsted has about 200 employees and expect the Ocean Wind development to have ~50 full time employees to management and maintenance. How many subcontractor jobs will be created and how long will these jobs last? Where is the data? It’s available somewhere because it was spoon-fed to the unions who are in support of the projects.
  • When asked about the failure rate. “There is no failure rate.” That’s impossible. Well a quick search what do you know? Maintenance costs can make up ~30% of the overall cost of energy and failure rates are much higher offshore than onshore. The components that fail the most are the pitch/hydraulic system, gear box or the generator. The biggest failure in these groups are oil issues (oil leaks, unscheduled oil changes, unscheduled oil top ups)

The meeting had overwhelming interest proving the public wants more information and wants to engage with developers. Sadly the question and answer portion was limited. After the meeting I was compelled to email the Orsted representatives.

My Email

Hello and thank you for having the meeting to inform the public today. Personally I felt like the meeting was an advertisement for the project and for the most part did not address the communities concerns. While that might have been the intent of the meeting I ask, Can Orsted schedule additional meetings ASAP?

I would like to see informative meetings where the overview is skipped. This general information is listed on your site. There’s no need to present it at each meeting. In my opinion, it’s a waste of everyone’s time. The public wants details and after far too many years they aren’t being shared. We have to wait until the NOI and/or COP?

While there’s so much to discuss I will put my personal expertise as a fisheries stakeholder aside and ask for more information on the fundamentals that pertain to the general public. I’ve had to read 1000’s of pages and spend way too many hours at meetings to not get a straight answer. A large portion of NJ ratepayers have this frustration. The ones who do not are unaware of these projects being fast tracked in ‘their” backyards.

Costs & Risk To Ratepayers

On the call there was reference to an independent study which stated ratepayers should expect ~$1.46+/- per month. I would assume this is a variable rate that would go up each month/year? Or is it fixed?

I attended the NJ BPU meeting Feb 26 to learn more about in depth topics. The public needs to have more information published on the topic of the transmission system, transmission costs/upgrades as well as curtailment costs and mitigation. I’m really looking for any documents that detail specifics rather than “studies show”.

Can someone explain more about the following article;  www.njspotlight.com/2019/09/19-09-15-216-rsted-okd-to-bring-its-offshore-wind-power-ashore-at-oyster-creek-facility/ I assume Orsted agrees with this news source since Orsted is listed under as Major Funder.

The article states… “Ocean Wind will pay the first $10 million of transmission costs. From there to $130 million, Ocean Wind will incur 70 percent of the costs with 30 percent recovered from ratepayers. From $130 million to $174 million, the costs will be split between the developer and ratepayers. After $174 million, ratepayers will pay 100 percent of the costs.” 

This is alarming given the slide in which Orsted’s Mid-Atlantic Project Development Director Christian Bjol presented at the Feb 26th NJ BPU meeting: “Risks are real: Between 2013 and 2016 alone, German ratepayers had to pay $1.2B. All costs associated with delays and cost overruns passed along directly to ratepayers.” Please comment.

Risk To Birds

Marc, in regards to your comment on the call… “data collected on birds over a 20-30 year period showed that birds this far out were slightly above zero.” I would like to see this study. One link I suggest you read to bring you up to speed on the topic, NJCleanEnergy.com – 2004 NJ Offshore Wind Energy: Feasibility Study. I’ve also attached the same study which I’ve highlighted a few important points on the topic of sea birds for your enrichment. It was my goal to save you the time that I had to spend. I’m on the water well over a 100 days a year. There’s terns, gannets, shearwater, petrels, gulls, among others. I occasionally see soaring raptors (ospreys) surprisingly farther offshore than most would believe, 7-10 miles when bunker schools are present on the east side of the reef sites, exactly where the lease sites are located.

Pg 196: “Little is known about the presence and movements of the more pelagic seabirds.” Is very much concerning especially considering it’s now 15+ years later and I don’t see much research on the topics.

Pg 195: “The presence of large numbers of birds throughout the year in portions of the project study area suggests the potential for some risk to these species.”

“Studies from Europe provide some insight regarding potential collision impacts, although this insight can only be used after more thorough investigations in specific project areas are done.” Were these studies done? Where can I read about them?

Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Pilot Program

Please correct me if I am wrong… Orsted is currently operating two 12MW turbines at the CVOW Pilot Program (27 miles off Virginia Beach). Where can I find public documents that detail the activities and findings of both offshore and onshore topics?

Again I thank you for your time and look forward to learning more about the developments. I would appreciate a reply but please refrain if it will contain the cookie cutter response, “the many benefits outweigh the negative impacts”.

Thanks for reading. If the topic of Offshore Wind is concerning to you I suggest digging in and learning more about the topic. Review the developer’s sites, BOEM and be sure to look at Protect Our Coast NJ. The subject is wide reaching covering all of the basis from environmental, fisheries and wildlife concerns, ratepayer’s energy costs, sustainable coastal communities, political theater, viewshed, marine safety and many other .

Atlantic Shore Wind Farm Meeting 1/28/21

Windmills are coming to Long Beach Island and the surrounding areas in NJ. This should not be ground breaking news.

Hot off the Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind Zoom meeting I figured it was right to share my feelings of the situation. This is not to detail the entire situation, project or debate fine points. There’s lots of information available with some simple searches on Google. I encourage all to do it and read up on things. Might want to start here… AtlanticShoresWind.com

The Jan 28th Recreation Fishing Meeting And Listening Session was the second of its type. It started off bumpy with tech trouble but then took off and was really good. I don’t think it could of went any better. Why? Some great public comments were made and Atlantic Shore (AS) was listening.

This is a photoshopped image modified and give a possible hint at what the windmills off Long Beach Island could look like.

The Atlantic Shore Lease is located approximately 9 to 20 miles off the New Jersey coast, between Barnegat Light and Atlantic City, encompassing approximately 183,000 acres.

Offshore Wind Farm Key Concerns:

The reason for the meeting was to list out the concerns and hear public comment/concerns from the recreational fishing community with regards to the Offshore Wind Farm (OWF) and the AS lease site. Here’s the list that was presented…

  • EMF
  • Habitat
  • Transit Lanes
  • AIS
  • Radar Clutter
  • Access
  • Cable Burial
  • Anchoring

EMF – Electro-Magnetic Fields

This is the hottest and most debatable topic and needs its own individual meeting(s). The quick and dirty… Some species of fish like flounder and sharks are affected by the EMF from the cables. The “Flounder Fence” issue is very concerning and possibly detrimental to NJ’s fisheries.

There will be a large network of cables, more on them below. There’s talk that an EMF study is being finalized but so is the plans of the OWF project. Seems like someone is putting the cart before the horse. Also there is major concern that information from the Block Island Wind Farm (BIWF) will be used to speculate about the AS lease site and project. The five wind turbines at the Block island Wind Farm are totally different than hundreds of turbines off the Central Jersey Coast. It’s like comparing apples to oranges.


Areas were discussed and shown on a chart detailing the lease site and sensitive areas that were brought to the attention of AS by recreational and commercial fishermen. Most of the areas detailed were at the southern area of the site off of Atlantic City.

There was positive discussion about building structure around the base of each foundation to both protect from erosion and also help build a habitat to hold fish. I hope more discussions develops on this topic as it could help anglers. Possibly we could ask (who knows what they will give us) for a few (if not all) special locations which would have extra high rock piles 10-20″ tall, maybe some piling of clean construction materials (concrete) to help build small or large artificial reefs throughout the lease site.

Effect On Existing Artificial Reefs

Good news for anglers, “The Lease Area and export cable routes are planned to avoid artificial reefs and wreck sites. These artificial reefs will also be avoided during construction and maintenance of the project. If new artificial reef locations are established, these will also be included in our project design planning.”

Transit Lanes

For transiting vessels the offshore wind turbines will be placed in a uniformed grid layout that has transit corridors of no less than 1 nautical mile. The number of wind turbines and their distance between individual ones is still not known. These rows allow for safe transit of all marine traffic and will take into account existing vessel traffic patterns and hopefully will take into account recreational fishing vessels heading offshore to the deep.

A major concern to sport fishing vessels out of Barnegat Inlet would be heading to the Spencer Canyon or any waters to its south. If there isn’t a transit lane offshore sport fishing vessels will be dealing with an excessive route. Unfortunately Beach Haven Inlet vessels they will have a much harder time choosing a route with minimal detours heading to the Baltimore or any waters all the way up to the MudHole. Obviously there will be a way to get through BUT, this is an area that anglers need to speak up and voice their opinions. What are your needs for transit lanes and exactly where! To the best of my knowledge the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association is in communication with AS representatives but I did not hear a public comment. I’ll be looking for more clarification about this.

AIS – Automatic Identification System

Yes wind turbines will be marked and illuminated to meet the needs of mariners and requirements of the USCG and FAA. However that is not enough. In my opinion each turbine must have an AIS transponder for the utmost in marine navigation safety. This way each and every turbine’s position is listed or overlaid as a point on GPS plotters. At busy times marine traffic could bottle neck as vessels transit through lanes. Especially in bad weather and times of limited visibility AIS will be very helpful to mariners.

Radar Clutter

How will the wind turbines display and clutter on a radar screen? This is especially important in foul weather situations which is why AIS is crucial. I’d like to see a screen shot or hear from a mariner with experience navigating by the Block Island Wind Farm.

Fishing Access

There will be no restrictions once constructed. Fishing will be allowed right up to the piles. However vessels can not tie off. Rhodan GPS Anchors are game changers!

Here’s Captain Greg Cudnik long arming a hump head black sea bass one fall day. While it’s up for debate there is potential the AS OWF will offer structure that holds a variety of species. What species will benefit and what species will be hurt? Only time will tell.

Cable Burial

Two types of cables will be used; inter-array cables network the wind turbines and export cables will go to substations. All cables will be buried 6 ft (2m) and some areas will need rocks to protect/support the cable.

The concern about the soft sandy bottom type which is predominantly found in the area was mentioned. Sand shift with currents and especially with storms. As per AS, “All cables will be monitored for burial throughout project operation.”

Details On The Cable Were Shared

The main core of the cables will be made of up of three inner cables, surrounded by insulation and shielding. Then a chain mail armor jacket with a thick plastic outer covering. Obviously designed for the marine environment


Anchoring is a common practice by bottom fishermen. The topic was listed but was not discussed in detail. Will anchoring be allowed? I assume so but maybe this needs clarification.

Public Comment On Windmills Added

I felt strongly and commented that the first and foremost list of concern should be Recreation Fishing Opportunities. This three word phase is broad and wide reaching, but is the utmost importance!

Statewide Contributions By Anglers In NJ

In 2018 the American Sportfishing Association along with data from NOAA published (link here) $1.3 billion in economic output was contributed by New Jersey’s anglers and it supported close to 9000 jobs. As noted in the report from 2018 to 2020 there was a 66% increase in excise tax collected therefore 2020 contributions are significantly higher. The graphic below details some trends on the U.S. Recreational Fishing Economy published in 2016.

With regards to the high risk of the project to the states important fisheries, Bob Rush Charter Captain of the Starfish and NJ Marine Fisheries Council member commented, “If/when the fisheries are ruined as a result of the OWF will there be mitigation? Subsidies?” Not much of a reply back.

What Took Me By Surprise

This was a public meeting for the recreation fishing industry and community to air our their concerns and comment to AS. With only ~70 in attendance I thought it was a poor turn out considering the timing and convenience of Zoom. WTF!?! How was not one other tackle shop on the call!?! Pathetic! Maybe because the Orsted (another separate OWF project taking place off of Northern NJ waters) meetings went so poorly there was a lack of interest? Huge thanks to our Recreational Fisheries Industry Rep Captain Adam Nowalsky (also from Recreation Fishing Alliance) and Fisheries Liaison Officer Captain Kevin Wark (from Barnegat Light). Without these two well respected captains the situation could be a lot different.

Offshore Wind Turbine Foundation Type

The style of foundation was touched on briefly and it sounds like the exact type was not chosen yet but they are leaning towards the monopile style (single column is lowest cost). With that said the jacket style (BIWF) might not be out of the question. The jacket style’s lattice framework offers the best habitat for fishing structure.

Read Up!

I encourage all interested and concerned to read up on the OWF topic. I’m diving in to learn more as I’m new to this new world of wind. Although distinctly different information on the Block Island Wind Farm is a good start. The Dublin Array Offshore Wind Farm is another project in the Irish Sea. Construction will start soon about 10km off the coastline of Dublin Ireland.

Other Links To Read…

Offshore Windmills and the Effects of Electromagnetic Fields on Fish

Evaluation of Potential EMF Effects on Fish Species of Commercial or Recreational Fishing Importance in Southern New England

Effects Of EMFS From Undersea Power Cabled On Elasmbranchs And Other Marine Species

The Fisherman Magazine: Myth or Matter: Is Offshore Wind Blowing in Too Fast?

$250M Paulsboro Marine Terminal

F/V Bay Of Isles Shipwreck on LBI

Notice To Mariners: Hazards exist in the Barnegat Inlet Area, Navigate With Extreme Caution! – Large wood debris is scattered across the area due to the shipwreck of the Bay Of Isles. It wrecked on the south side of the Barnegat Inlet Jetty. Debris was reported along the beaches of LBI, the inshore waters as well as the Barnegat Inlet and in numerous locations of the bay and main thoroughfares of Double Creek and Oyster Creek.

The Bay Of Isles ran hard aground the night of May 6th. This photo shows the vessel hard aground.

Wednesday evening May 6, 2020 the 53′ F/V Bay Of Isles, a 1975 custom wooden trawler ran aground on the Old South Jetty at the north end of Long Beach Island. The vessel began taking on water. Two passengers aboard the vessel were rescued. Due to the hazardous location of the wreck, they were airlifted off in the middle of the night. No injuries were reported..

Looking towards the west this photo shows the stern of the ship as well as the rubble field remnants of the Old South Jetty in Barnegat Light at the north end of Long Beach Island.
Looking towards the west this photo shows the stern of the ship as well as the rubble field remnants of the Old South Jetty in Barnegat Light at the north end of Long Beach Island.

We heard rumor through the grapevine (small talk with Coast Guard on the scene) the vessel was transiting down from New York to have some work done in NJ. It was recently for sale out of New London, CT.

How/why the vessel ended up in the bad spot is largely unknown to us at this point in time. The sea conditions on the full moon night were fair with 3′ long period swell and light winds.

Maybe it was mechanical failure. Maybe it was navigation error. One thing is for sure… it’s going to be interesting watching the removal/salvage process.

Looking towards the north at the port side of the Bay Of Isles shipwreck.
Looking towards the north at the port side of the Bay Of Isles shipwreck.

As far as environmental hazards, the proper authorities are on the scene and monitoring the situation. At 1pm (5/7/20) the onshore sea breeze started and the smell of fuel/oil was present. The vessel is believed to have four fuel tanks with the capacity to hold upwards of 800-1000 gallons of fuel. What the vessel what holding at the time of the incident is what’s important. It was said that the crew reported about 500 gallons were onboard. Why a contractor was not hired on DAY ONE to pump the tanks dry is beyond fathomable.

It was said that due to the location, “it is not safe for the removal of the fuel tank or feasible to place a containment boom.” That’s obvious by anyone who knows that area. However I fish this area regular and have spent many nights on hose same rocks where the Bay of Isles grounded. Access from the beach to the rocks is not easy but very much doable. I don’t see any reason why properly equipped salvage professionals couldn’t get out to the rock pile. Somewhat easily access the fuel tanks and pump the fuel to container trucks on the beach, container ship or barge. My assumption is it would have been an mild task with the beautiful weather that was present on Thursday and Friday. Especially with the full moon low tides in the middle of the day during high sun.

Looking at the photos from May 7th nothing was visible in the water other than wood debris (decking, planking, hatches, etc) and belongings. On the 7/8th, there was debris reported as far south as the Ship Bottom surf, Oyster Creek Channel along the sod banks in the bay and as far north as Island Beach State Part. How far the debris travels in the coming days will be concerning to navigation. Hopefully the westerly gale on Friday-Saturday (8/9th) will push the pieces off into deeper water where they sink and settle to make new structure and habitat for fish. But it could spread it all over. We’ll have to wait and see.

Birds eye view looking down on the Old South Jetty and the wreck of the F/V Bay of Isles.
Birds eye view looking down on the Old South Jetty and the wreck of the F/V Bay of Isles. All photos are property of Fisherman’s Headquarters, Ship Bottom, NJ. They can not be copied or distributed without written consent.

Thinking back the only other recent time incident that was similar to this was in 2012. This time it was on the north side of the Barnegat Inlet. A 38′ sport fishing vessel the Southern Comfort ran across the submerged section of the Barnet Inlets North Jetty. Six were aboard and abandoned ship when the vessel took on water and sunk. All were rescued.