Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind Developer Seeks Input from Fishermen

by John Toth
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association March 2021 Newsletter)

Atlantic Shores hosted a Webinar on January 13th with the purpose of receiving input from fishermen. I participated in this Webinar, along with about 64 other individuals, to receive information on this new developer who wants to place windmills 10 to 20 miles off the coast between Barnegat Bay and Atlantic City. This new wind farm will be approximately the size of 183,000 acres! The developers’ goal is to deliver three gigawatts of wind energy, enough to power 1.5 million homes. The windmills would provide 40% of Governor Murphy’s goal of 7,500 megawatts of offshore wind-generated energy by 2035.

After the developer presented an overview of their project, the floor was open for questions. The question of whether anglers will be able to fish by the windmills was raised. Atlantic Shores emphatically indicated that anglers will be able to fish by their windmills, but not during the construction phase for safety reasons which is understandable. While fishing is allowed by the windmills, it will not be allowed at their substation where energy is transferred to land by cables. This substation is a sensitive area since terrorists would target it to shut down this whole energy project. It is not worthwhile for terrorists to target a few windmills when they could shut down everything by taking out this substation.

Some familiar areas of concern were raised by participants and they include the safety of cables and their electromagnetic effects on fish migration. Atlantic Shores indicated that their cables would be buried at least six feet to reduce electromagnetic effects. This issue has been raised a number of times with other developers and the answer that usually follows is that the cables do not seem to have any adverse effects on fish migrations. However, I have yet to hear any developer come out to say that their cables will NOT have any adverse effects on fish migration patterns!

Another issue that came up was Cold Pool and Atlantic Shores indicated that their windmills would have no effect on it. Cold Pool is a huge band of cold bottom water in the ocean extending from Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras that is fed by fresh water from multiple rivers and estuaries. This area experiences one of the largest summer-to-winter temperature changes of any part of the ocean around the world. Cold Pool has impacts on shellfish, pelagic and other fish. The migration patterns of Atlantic Butterfish and others are influenced by this Cold Pool. This is a complex issue and one that affects our fisheries and cannot be easily dismissed by Atlantic Shores. More research is needed to determine what effects that the windmills planned off our coast will impact this sensitive Cold Pool.

Atlantic Shores staff indicated that they intend to visit fishing clubs and do a PowerPoint presentation on their energy project so anglers can better understand their windmill project. However, because of COVID-19, club visits are off the table until public gatherings are permitted. Atlantic Shores indicated that they want to sponsor tournaments of fishing clubs and will be reaching out to clubs for this sponsorship. While this can help clubs with their tournaments, it is a way to “buy” support of clubs for Atlantic Shores. There should be no need to “buy” support; the Atlantic Shores project should stand on its own merits.

Atlantic Shores is a partnership between Shell New Energies US LLC and EDF Renewables North America. If it’s successful with the public review process, which includes approval of its environmental impact report, this developer’s goal is to have their windmills in place around 2027.

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