Capt. Paul Eidman and Capt. John McMurray
Captain Paul Eidman is a Raritan Bay, New Jersey based charter captain of Reel Therapy. Captain John McMurray is a Long Island, New York based charter captain of One More Cast Charters.
Last month, New York announced the award of two offshore wind projects that will provide 1,700 megawatts of power – enough to power 1 million homes – to the state. One of developers, Equinor, owns the rights to develop offshore wind power in a lease area in the New York bight, approximately 15 miles south of Jones Beach, Long Island and 17 miles east of Sandy Hook, New Jersey.
For many anglers, offshore wind power has flown under the radar for years. Today, states are making ambitious commitments to develop more of this clean energy source in the next five years, but the only offshore wind project in the entire country consists of five turbines operating off of Block Island. This is all going to change very quickly as we go from five to hundreds of turbines from New Jersey to Massachusetts right in front of our eyes.
Adding all of that underwater structure will serve as new artificial reef hot spots well within reach of many anglers, and sooner than we imagined. The Block Island Wind Farm saw the turbine foundations covered in mussels in just a few months, and today anglers are catching black sea bass, fluke, cod, scup, tautog and mahi-mahi around the turbines.
In the Empire Wind development that Equinor is planning, offshore anglers from New Jersey and New York will likely find the bait-holding potential of the sixty to eighty turbine foundations attracts a number of pelagic species as well. For those of us who run sixty or more miles offshore to chase tuna and other migratory species, looking for lobster pots, grass mats, current rips or anything that helps aggregate bait, the potential opportunity is very exciting.
Notably, this project will also be the first proposed American project to use cement filled “gravity foundations” for the turbines which do not require pile driving that can disturb fish and marine mammals during construction. While there are new methods to do pile driving responsibly, gravity foundations completely eliminate the need for this construction method.
Offshore wind power is only going to benefit recreational anglers if developed with our input in mind. Engaging early in the planning process to provide input on siting, permitting and access can avoid future conflicts. Whether you’re a resident of New Jersey or New York you can have a say in this and other projects as they are developed in federal waters off our coastline. Anglers for Offshore Wind Power has three major principles:
Recreational anglers must be able to fish up to the base of turbine foundations to take advantage of the new habitat that will be created by offshore wind power development. We understand access may be limited during construction.
2. Public Input
Recreational anglers must be engaged early in the planning process for offshore wind power development. Clearly communicated opportunities to provide input on siting, permitting, access and other issues can avoid future conflicts.
Fisheries research before, during and after wind turbine construction is essential for monitoring impacts to species of interest to recreational anglers. Study results should be publicly available and regularly communicated to our community.
To stay informed and get involved, visit www.anglersforoffshorewind.org/principles today and sign up. You’ll help us send the message to offshore wind power developers and permitting agencies that these considerations must be taken into account. It’s also the best way for us to keep you informed and to provide opportunities for public comment on developments. Anglers need to advocate for responsible offshore wind development and have a seat at the table every step of the way – and we’re here to help make that happen.
The upsides for recreational anglers are too great to sit this one out, so if you’re a Jersey or New York angler, please like, share and follow us on Facebook, and online at www.anglersforoffshorewind.org