Federal energy planners’ solicitation of wind energy developer interest offshore of Oregon has the state’s commercial fishing advocates organizing to push for major environmental analysis before any decision making begins.
“The effect of offshore wind development on fisheries, the habitat and the California Current is unknown. Placing giant turbines and anchors in a current system that is largely free-flowing and structure-free could cause irreparable harm to seabirds, marine mammals, fisheries management regimes and more,” said Susan Chambers, chair of the Southern Oregon Ocean Resource Coalition, in a joint statement with other groups.
“Robust environmental analyses need to be completed before areas are identified and leased, not after. Our productive California Current must be protected.”
Oregon activists organized on the eve of an expected Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announcement Feb. 25 that it will look at new “call areas” over more than 2,000 square miles for potential future federal leasing. They expected to speak at the BOEM Oregon Renewable Energy Task Force meeting Friday.
The Oregon call areas process is beginning as BOEM, renewable energy advocates and fishing and maritime industries are still in the early stages of BOEM planning for wind energy areas off California’s Morro and Humboldt bays.
“These turbines are going to blow me off the water,” said Travis Hunter, president of the Fishermen’s Marketing Association, whose family has fished for years off southern Oregon and northern California and in the Humboldt Wind Energy Area. “These areas will displace hard-working fishermen.”
“Developers are largely funded by foreign companies. Most of the profits, at Oregon taxpayers’ expense, will be funneled overseas. This is not ‘the Oregon way,’” said Nick Edwards, an Oregon fisherman and secretary of the Shrimp Producers Marketing Cooperative.
“This is what results from government agency lip service versus authentic engagement,” said Heather Mann, Director of the Midwater Trawlers Cooperative. “BOEM has essentially chosen prime fishing areas for turbines threatening not just Oregon harvesting and processing jobs, but food security as well.”
“The importance of where these gigantic, floating wind farms are placed cannot be under emphasized. If we do not get this decision absolutely correct, the fallout could have a dire domino economic effect on all Oregon commercial fisheries, including the vitally important Oregon Dungeness crab fishery,” Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission Executive Director Hugh Link said.