Big Win! New State Fund for Fisheries Studies Funded by Offshore Wind Development

by Capt. Paul Eidman, Forage Fish & Habitat Committee Chairman
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association October 2020 Newsletter)

NJBPU announced this week that all offshore wind developers building projects for New Jersey must invest directly in fisheries research as a condition of their power contracts. The state is inviting bids for up to 2,400 MW of offshore wind power and if all are awarded it will generate $24 million in research funding which could be directed toward efforts to study recreational gamefish, related habitat and other subjects vital to the health of New Jerseys recreational fishing economy. JCAA has been striving for a decision like this since we got behind increased usage of renewable energy and the related potential of improving our fishery and waters by burning less fossil fuels. New York State finalized a similar requirement for its next round (2,500 MW) of contracts earlier this summer, so together this creates nearly $50 M of new resources for critical fisheries and wildlife research needed to advance our understanding of potential offshore wind energy impacts to the marine environment here and how to address them at each stage of the development process.

New Jersey's nearshore and offshore waters are biologically diverse and rich with fisheries and other species habitat that provide important natural resource and economic value to the State and its residents. While New Jersey has studied these resources the introduction of new onshore and offshore industry introduces new variables into both the natural and economic environment that must be well studied and understood as offshore wind developments are constructed, operated, and decommissioned. Accordingly, conducting ongoing research and monitoring the effects of the offshore wind industry on the distribution and abundance of wildlife and fisheries resources is a priority for New Jersey.

Also, this fall, New Jersey finalized its Offshore Wind Strategic Plan which outlines this and other efforts the Murphy Administration will be taking to advance responsibly developed offshore wind projects. Offshore wind developers seeking contracts with New Jersey are required to submit a detailed Fisheries Protection Plan, along with a broader Environmental Protection Plan, with their bids to the BPU. This critical piece of the process offers opportunities to clarify for BPU key project details, including firm commitments to specific development practices important to NJ stakeholders that will be taken to ensure alignment with the state’s vision.

We will be following the next steps with the research funding as the details unfold. All bidders will be required to commit financial and technical support to research initiatives and the regional monitoring of wildlife and fisheries-related to the introduction of offshore wind projects through a $10,000 per megawatt of project nameplate capacity fee. NJDEP and BPU will collaborate with the selected project developers, research institutions, industry, regional monitoring organizations, and members of the New Jersey Offshore Wind Environmental Resources Working Group to identify and prioritize research and monitoring needs. Example studies could include but are not limited to: annual habitat surveys, regional studies and collaboration with neighboring states to develop and collect information, evaluation of the extent and attenuation of noise resulting from construction and operation of offshore wind energy facilities and its effects on the background biological soundscape, and assessment of the vulnerability of fisheries receptors.

We look forward to working together with the NJDEP and providing stakeholder feedback and support to ensure that these funds are directed and prioritized to the right places at the right times. We encourage the involvement of New Jerseys recreational angling/ boating community to get involved as much as possible before during and after construction.

Tight Lines, Paul (

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