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.

NJ Offshore Wind Fiasco P2

Here is NJ Offshore Wind Fiasco Part 1

I’ve been to far too many pro wind propaganda meetings put on by the developers and feds. I’ve asked lots of great questions based around the risks to the ocean and fisheries, but most are ignored or deflected with a green washed smile. For this reason and this reason only I became more involved and do my best to share. I’m not asking anyone to be in favor or against these wind projects. I just want everyone to know what’s happening and the speed at which it’s happening. Hopefully after reading, you too will be concerned and yearning for deeper information on the threats offshore wind blows in.

First and foremast I do not deny; climate change, shifting ocean currents, ocean acidification, warming sea surface temps and the northern shift in fish patterns. All of these issues are critical and contributing to major challenges and even crisis in fisheries. But!

Hundreds (possibly thousands) of offshore wind turbines do not solve the problem. In fact industrializing one million acres of the ocean adds a whole new unknown invasive dimension. Scientists are working on many of the hot topics listed below. Their work must be completed and explicitly considered; however the offshore wind developments are outpacing the speed of science and the needs of the sea.

Fisheries & Oceanographic Concerns

1,000,000 Acres Of Turbines Off NJ

Yes 1 million acres of ocean is slated to be exploited by wind developers. What is massively overlooked and absent is the comprehensive assessment of the CUMULATIVE EFFECTS! The industrialization of the ocean could lead to the destruction of the ocean radically faster than what the plan is set forth to solve, Climate Change.

Ocean Dynamics

Offshore wind farms can negatively impact ocean dynamics which has major implications for fish. All phases of offshore wind development pressure and stress the marine environment.

  • Surveying – Right now (and in the past year) surveying activity has had detrimental effects on fish aggregations in the areas where seismic blasting is taking place. Cone Penetration Testing (CPT) is taking place to test the sea floor and 100’s of feet through the sea floor.
  • Construction – Harmful sound and turbidity during the turbine base installation will be two major problems. Will it be localized to the areas of activity? There’s documentation (Appendix R & Cowrie Noise 03-2003) showing noise even with mitigation (bubble curtains) still travels many miles. How long will it go on for? How large and wide spread will the sediment plumes be and what effect will they have on fishing. Usually dirty turbid water is bad for fishing.
  • Operation – By extracting energy and leaving a wake downwind, reduced windspeed, air turbulence and changes in pressure. Wind farms very well may disturb the natural stratification of ocean waters. This mixing can affect what is known as the Cold Pool, plankton and the food web. This disturbance will also effect larval transport which is dependent on the winds and currents to move and distribute naturally. This is a vital part of the fisheries and can’t be a testing ground to experiment!
  • Decommissioning – Once things finally settle in to the radical change, after 20-30 years it is the new normal. But at that time the useful life has been reached and as per the Ocean Wind 1’s COP 6.3 Decommissioning Plan “At the end of the operational lifetime of the Project, it is anticipated that all structures above the seabed level or aboveground will be completely removed. The decommissioning sequence will generally be the reverse of the construction sequence.” Basically everything is ripped out.What effects will this new radical change in habitat have?

Reef Effect

Most pro-wind boast of the benefits turbine structures could create. But, Wind turbines and their low lying scour protection is not a net benefit to the ecosystem. The reef effect from offshore wind turbines is a potential detrimental risk not advantage. Here is why.

First and foremost NJ has a shallow, soft sand/mud/clay bottom. Drawling conclusions from Block Island’s Wind Farm and comparing to NJ is apples and oranges. Block Island has deep water and rocky hard bottom. Not all species benefit from the addition of hard substrate in an area where little hard substrate occurs naturally. Also the five turbine bases (jacketed lattice style) there are also a different style structure compared to the monopiles proposed here. A cave like structure (wrecks) or poles close to one another, think bridge or dock can offer refuge. A steel monopile does nothing more than break the current and foul. This will attract but debatable if it only attracts existing fish to this new area or if this new area produces new fish adding to the biomass.

Without a doubt offshore wind developments will change the marine ecosystem and alter the food web.

  • Permanent changes to benthic habitat will occur with the installation of wind turbine generators.
  • Developments will also alter the food web and the benthic ecosystem. The of attraction vs production arrises. Essentially turbine bases are fish attracting device that will aggregate and ecologically trap fish in a suboptimal habitat. *This will assist anglers in possibly over fishing which could actually lead to hurting fish stocks.
  • Another concern is the support of colonization of non-indigenous species and at times invasive species to these new area.
  • The altering of migratory patterns is another huge risk!
    • When gamefish take an offshore migration or congregate in an offshore wind development due to the reef effect how will the recreational fishing economy be compensated for the loss of opportunity? Not all anglers have the ability to fish 5-15-30 miles offshore. More over federally protected species like striped bass could be (and more than likely will be) pulled out of state waters due to the reef effect in essence reducing recreational access to the resource. We’ve yet to hear from state and federal agencies on this topic.

Sand Eels aka Sand Lance

Turbine and inter array cabling poses huge risk to these very import forage.

The critically important sand lance are forage fish in the NW Atlantic that were grossly overlooked in Orsted’s COP Appendix P. There are 45 species of fish both coastal and pelagic, 16 sea birds and 9 marine mammals that depend on sand lance making the species a quintessential link in the food web. Table 4.9 of the NJ Offshore Wind Energy: Feasibility Study (pg77) the American Sand Lance is one of the only species not to have their spawning location mentioned? Seems odd!  Their role and strong association with sandy sediment must be explicitly considered.

Sand lance are a very important forage fish, the back bone of the ecosystem with everything from cod, tuna, whales and bird feeding on them. If sand lance decline there will be a ripple effect to all of the higher trophic animals. These little eel like fish have a huge impact!

Cold Pool Disruption

The Mid-Atlantic Bight (MAB) is home to the world’s widest ocean water temperature swings with the winter’s cold in the low 30’s and the summer’s highs at times reaching 80ºF. The waters begin to stratify in the spring as the sea surface temperature warms and this special cold dense blanket of water settles in on the bottom over the summer. This phenomenon is called the MAB Cold Pool supports the area’s diverse and vibrant fisheries. It also acts as a natural defense when hurricanes move into the area.

In the summer NJ anglers can head offshore and at one location catch mahi (warm water fish) near floating debris and then drop a bait to the bottom and catch a ling or cod (cold water fish). Did you ever experience ice cold ocean temps after a hard south blow? This is the cold pool upwelling.

The Cold Pool is seasonal and naturally breaks down in the late fall when winds and storm activity increases. Could the addition of 100-1000’s of fixed turbine bases act like a whisk and disturb/mix the waters? Prevent the cold pool from seasonally forming? It’s possible. The cumulative affect of wind turbines in the MAB have never been studied to fully understand the lasting impact on the area and everyone that depends on its natural resources. Further research is required and currently underway by a team at Rutgers however the offshore wind development deadlines are not set up to responsibly wait for the scientific findings.

Electro Magnetic Field (EMF) & Sea Life

There are serious concerns with regards to cabling. More specifically I have a huge problem believing there will be little impact from ripping a jet plow through the heart of Barnegat Bay. This area is not only a nursery (EFH – essential fish habitat) for many species, it’s also home to endangered SAV (submerge aquatic vegetation) such as eel grass and widgeon grass among others. A high voltage export cabling will be in very shallow water (less than 15′) and the EMF (electromagnetic field) very much CAN have effects based on URI’s Dr. King’s papers. More studies need to be done on the effects on the crustaceans of Barnegat Bay (blue claws, horseshoe crabs, calico crabs, mantis shrimp, grass shrimp and others) as well as the fin fish, sharks and rays.

Sharks & Offshore Wind Turbines

Sharks are very important and there are critically endangered shark species (brown, dusky, sand tiger, thresher, mako and white) which call the wind lease areas home. Appendix P Table 3 lists these species which will not only be affected during construction but also during operation since sharks are known to be sensitive to EMF. Altering their patterns raises huge concerns. Sharks are slow to reproduce. Some sharks born today will not be sexually mature until the decommission (which is very much vague and left open ended) of these projects in 20 years.

Flounder & Offshore Wind Turbines

Orsted’s Ocean Wind Construction & Operations Plan V3 Appendix P Lists Winter & Summer Flounder as economically important flatfish and it happens to be species that need A LOT OF HELP! Yet developments put them at risk. The project area contains designated EFH for flounder egg, larval, juvenile and adult life stage. Appendix E Photo 7 the survey documents a juvenile summer flounder clearly showing the site is a nursery.

Surf Clam & Offshore Wind Turbines

Relatively little is known about surf clams which have 500 year lifespans. Yet 100-1000’s of turbines are slated to be slammed in their sandy home. Let’s slow down and learn about what calls these waters home before destroying it! Fortunately Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind funded a $500,000 study with Rutgers University to study NJ’s surf clam industry and the potential impacts of wind farms on the shellfish.

Environmentally Sensitive Areas

The 2010 at 3rd NJ Renewable Task Force Meeting Dr. Buchanan (NJDEP) presents “NJ’s Area Of Interest – Wind Power On The OCS” and delineates areas off the coast of NJ for possible development to meet the state’s goals of 1,100MW of offshore wind. Ecologically sensitive areas as well as areas of potential conflict were shown in addition to several avoidance zones. Now NJ’s mandates (Murphy’s numerous Executive Orders) tripled at 3,500MW by 2030 and 7,500MW by 2035 and what do you know… The lease sites now cover much of these sensitive areas.

Shoals and ridges function as feeding grounds and nurseries for various pelagic and bottom dwelling species as well as serve as fishing hot spots for recreational and commercial fisherman, birds sea turtle and marine mammals.

Hazardous Chemicals Don’t Belong In The Ocean

1 gallon of oil containment 100 million gallons of sea water

As per the Ocean Wind COP & Atlantic Shore Cop one turbine will have 1000’s of gallons of hazardous chemical and wind turbines are well documented leaking around the world. Oil Pollution Act of 1990 established that those responsible are responsible for the cleanup and restoration. So is this another risk that gets tossed into the taxpayers and ratepayer wallet?

Once the hazardous section is review the green hue of offshore wind projects begins to burn.

Ocean Wind COP Table 8.1-1
Atlantic Shore COP Table 7.0-1 details chemical to be used at the individual WTG (wind turbine generators) as well as the entire Atlantic Shore Project 1 and 2.
Atlantic Shore COP Table 7.0-2 details the chemicals to be used at OSS (offshore substations). Take note that there isn’t an approximate total like in 7.0-1. But an easy read of Table E-1 shows there will be ten small, five medium and four large offshore substations all location about 12-13.5 miles off of the coast. We are looking at 215,000 gallons of just diesel fuel on the “green machines”! Do the math on the others listed and you too might be concerned about a lot of hazardous chemicals in the ocean right off the Jersey Shore.

Navigation Hazards

Some might think that the ocean is an open vast area with nothing but water. However there’s vessels of all sizes everywhere all going in every which direction. It’s not an organized highway. AIS transceivers must be federally required on each and every turbine and substation. In foul weather and times of limited visibility avoiding turbine structures, other vessels making course changes as mariners attempt to zig zag through the sites will be challenging. Add to the hellacious problems, turbine blades interfere with radar and display clutter/interference. For this reason I feel that every ocean going vessel must have AIS systems onboard to both send and receive data. It is the only way for safe navigation through these massive wind farm areas.

Wind turbine generators have significant electromagnetic reflectivity, and therefore can interfere with radar systems operating nearby. The rotating blades can also create reflections in Doppler radar systems. In particular, these forms of interference could obfuscate smaller vessels and stationary objects such as buoys on radar, complicating navigation decisions and increasing the risk of collision with larger vessels. Maritime search and rescue teams also rely on radar to find smaller boats.

A foggy trip near the Block Island Wind Farm was captured by @alleyesonmorgan

Here’s a real world example (and current event) that puts the hazards into perspective. Mechanical failures can get very dangers on the high seas and then add in a forest of huge ocean turbines. Case and point… Article one details a recent event in the North Sea. Article two documents the cargo ship hitting a ocean wind turbine base.

To help ensure safe navigation, there must be a couple 5NM Transit Lanes properly laid out for both commercial and recreational traffic. There must be no less than 1NM Turbine Spacing to allow safe navigation within the ocean wind farm. The array layout must be done logically and in collaboration and correlation with neighboring wind development areas so there is consistency. As of August ’22 it sounds like the USCS asked for 1.5NM but 1NM, possibly 0.8NM was settled on and NO transit lanes!

Adequate transit lanes for both commercial and recreational traffic are vital however the outreach and collaboration with recreational sector has been poor at best. A properly planned layout would incorporate safety needs from the recreational sport fishing boats to include a couple safe fairways from South Jersey’s ports.

As detailed in the URI News article “Offshore wind farm reduce value of recreational boating experience”. 

Offshore Wind Noise Concerns

Acoustics are very important in the marine environment. Fish detect sounds with their very sensitive inner ear bones (otoliths) and some detect sound pressures in organs. Most fish use sounds for communication, navigation, spawning and to detect prey and predators. Noises can physically injure fish and also spook which reduces schooling altering behavior.

Construction & Operation Noise & Vibration

Noise both during construction and long term operation is a major risk to sea life that must be taken into account. Pile driving hammer 164′ into the seabed and seafloor disturbance during construction will last many years. It’s documented that noise from pile driving can cause major injuries to fish. Then during the planned 20-30 year (they will be happy if they get 10-15 years) operational lifespan low frequency sounds will be detrimental; whales, fish and forage (squid).

CPT Surveying Activities

CPT (Cone Penetration Testing) is used for survey purposes to analyze the ocean floor. It’s unknown to me how this activity relates (or not) to seismic blasting. I would really like to know because I believe it isn’t good. Case and point.

Marine seismic surveys emit high intensity, low frequency sound waves from airgun arryas downward into the water column. Thede waves penetrate the seafloo to provide imagery of underlying geology. This noise is very bad for marine mammals and fish.

Research confirms issues raised by marine mammal experts and suggest that concerns associated with marine seismic surveys appear to be realistic and well-founded.

The Northstar Commander is photographed here on June 18th surveying about 9 miles offshore of Barnegat Light.

Mid May to Mid June 2021 I had phenomenal black sea bass fishing east of Barnegat Light. On June 18th the Commander showed up and then the next four days June 19th to June 22 (last day of the season) offered very poor fishing? It was like a flipped the switch and the area was void of life.

I knew something was up but I didn’t really come to the conclusion until I saw my friend Jimmy Hahn’s (from Ocean City, MD) post on Facebook just a few das ago. He’s has a similar story from just last week and another from 2018.

He shared on December 12, 2021, “The north end of a 75 pot (welk traps) string near Indian River Inlet was void of life. This area is where Orsted was surveying for the last three month. But the south end where no surveying took place has life. This is what’s happening to our fishing grounds. The bottom is dead!” Jimmy has a similar event documented on his page from Dec 31, 2018 too. It sure doesn’t seem like a coincidence!

I hope this sparked your interest in the topic of offshore wind. Please do your own research and learn more about these rapidly developing issues. Thank you for reading. Please share!

Part 3 will posted soon (hopefully) and will touch on topics that should concern everyone; energy policy, economics and feasibility.

Who I am?

I am not an expert; however I am very informed recreational fisheries stakeholder. I’ve done extensive research over the years reading many peer reviewed journal on the many facets of offshore wind. I’ve attended as many (state/local/federal) meetings as possible. I’ve read many (if not all) of the Construction and Operations Proposals as well as the Notice Of Intent from developers. I also recently completed the Rutgers Cooperative Extension “IFISSH” Introductory Fisheries Science For Stakeholders Certificate Course, a 10 week program on the trending hot topics in fisheries, oceanography, climate and offshore wind. Since no one else is sharing the many concerning topic about offshore wind… I’ve done my best.

As a recreational fisheries stake holder, I have a myriad of concerns. You can hear all of my public comments, concerns and red flags at the numerous BOEM federal meetings. Here’s some good topics to consider.

If you would like to hear my public comments which listed many concerns and red flags at the numerous BOEM federal meetings… they are on record on BOEM’s YouTube page.

For the record, As far as new energy generation technology I’m a SMR (advanced small modular reactor, nuclear) believer since it is the ONLY clean, affordable and dependable energy that can serve our energy demands, base load and peaks. Canada is at the forefront of this now, but sadly not the US. Right now the shift off of coal is good but the shuttering of nuclear plants with available time on permits is going to cost the environment and the ratepayers. It only skews the numbers in favor of the radical green.

NJ's Offshore Wind Fiasco Part 1.
This was NJ's Offshore Wind Fiasco Part 2 which touched on 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.

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.