Ocean wind has big week, fishermen need to step up
Last week U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced three major developments in American offshore wind energy that set the table for fishermen engagement through public comment on plans. Two of the announcements impact fishermen in Rhode Island and Massachusetts directly.
Last Friday the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) published a Notice of Intent to prepare/review an Environmental Impact Statement (ESI) for the Construction and Operations Plan (COP) for the South Fork Wind Farm project off Rhode Island being developed by Deepwater Wind.
If approved, the plan would allow construction and operation of up to 15 turbines that connect via a transmission cable to a grid in East Hampton, New York - the east end of Long Island. The project is approximately 19 miles southeast of Block Island. The notice will have a 30-day public comment period closing on Nov. 19.
Jeffrey Grybowski, CEO of Deepwater Wind said, “The public will have the opportunity to review the Construction and Operations Plan and provide input to BOEM at three community meetings to be held in East Hampton, Rhode Island and in Massachusetts, or through written comment. We’re on track to begin construction on the South Fork Wind Farm once the EIS and permits are in-hand, by 2021, and to deliver clean energy to the South Fork starting in 2022.”
An open house will be held at the Narragansett Community Center, 53 Munford Road, Narragansett, on Thursday, Nov. 8. In New Bedford the meeting will be Wednesday, Nov. 7 at UMass Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology East, 836 South Rodney French Boulevard. Both open houses are from 5 to 8 p.m. with a presentation followed by a question and answer session starting at 6 p.m. For copies of the plans and information how to comment online, by mail or for information on the Long Island meeting visit https://www.boem.gov/South-Fork.
In a second development last week, Secretary Zink announced a much-anticipated wind auction in federal waters off the coast of Massachusetts which will take place on Dec. 19. And, the third announcement pertained to the next steps to the first-ever wind auction in federal waters off California.
Now is the time for anglers to engage by reviewing these plans, attending public meetings and presenting their comments on construction and operations plans as the South Folk Wind Farm Environmental Impact Statement is being developed and reviewed.
Angler windfarm meeting in Rhode Island
The Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) will host an informational meeting on ocean wind farms being developed off Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Lease holders and developers Deepwater Wind, Bay State Wind and Vineyard Wind will present their plans and projects being built or proposed on Monday, Nov. 26, 7 p.m. at the West Warwick Elks Lodge, 60 Clyde St., West Warwick. RISAA members attend free, nonmembers are asked to make a $10 donation to the RISAA Scholarship Fund. Visit www.risaa.org.
Jersey fishermen organize for seat at wind farm table
Last Thursday thirty five recreational fishermen attended an informational meeting held by Anglers for Offshore Wind Power at the Langosta Restaurant at Ashbury Park, New Jersey. Fishermen listened to a summary of wind farm development plans scheduled for New Jersey and as a Rhode Island fisherman I shared the positive experience Rhode Island fishermen have had with the Block Island Wind Farm through planning, construction and operation.
Anglers for Offshore Wind Power, a project of the National Wildlife Federation, sponsored the informational meeting. The group’s mission is to provide anglers with the information and resources needed to play a part in ensuring ocean wind farms are responsibly developed.
Capt. Paul Eidman of Reel Therapy Fly & Light Tackle Charters, New Jersey, and a fish advocate for Anglers for Offshore Wind Power, said, “The State of New Jersey plans to generate 3,500 megawatts of clean energy though wind power over the next twelve years (this is enough energy to power approximately 1.5 million homes). This is the largest offshore wind energy commitment of any state to date. Our job is to make sure our concerns for safety and those to safeguard the fish and habitat are addressed as ocean wind farms develop.”
Zach Cockrum of the National Wildlife Federation, said, “Offshore wind is a proven technology that has been generating clean energy elsewhere in the world for nearly three decades. Offshore wind also reduces pollution that is harming fish, and creates good-paying jobs.”
The presentation I gave related the new habitat created and abundance of fish being caught in the Block Island Wind Farm Area i.e. scup, black sea bass, summer flounder, cod, bluefish and striped bass. Turbine foundations there have acted as artificial reef structure creating new fish habitat. Video footage of the bases shows mussel growth with scup and black sea bass feeding and larger fish such as striped bass and bluefish circling the bases interested in feeding on the smaller fish.
Fishermen at the meeting said they question where the New Jersey turbines would be sited with concerns about them being in high traffic areas as well as in areas where scallops and ocean clams are presently harvested commercially.
The aim of the meeting (which seemed to be successful) was to cultivate recreational angler interest in wind farm projects and motivate them to get engaged in the wind farm planning process.
Tautog fishing tips
A how to catch tautog seminar highlighting gear, tactics and tips will be held Monday, October 29, 7:00 p.m. at the West Warwick Elks Lodge, 60 Clyde Street, West Warwick. Presenters include Capt. Wade Baker, angler Scott Crain and Capt. Kurt Rivard. Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association members attend free, nonmembers are asked to make a $10 donation to the RISAA Scholarship Fund. Visit www.risaa.org for information.
Where’s the bite?
Tautog fishing remained strong for those that made it out in windy/rough conditions this week and over the weekend. Anglers are caching their limit at rock piles and on ledges off Newport, Pt. Judith and off Narraganset Pier. Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick said, “The tautog bite is very good in the Bay with nice keepers being taken at the Coddington Cove jetty, Hope Island and around the bridges.” Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle said, “Tautog fishing paid off for those that got out in high winds and bad weather. Nice plump keepers have been taken at Conimicut Light, at Bold Point, and at Pier Five, Narragansett.” Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “Last Friday we had very good action on the blackfish. High hooks left with limits of fish to nine pounds. The water temperature is just starting to creep down with the cold nights we have been having. It is only a matter of time before the fishing really kicks off. We will be black fishing daily at 6 a.m. until the middle of December.”
Striped bass, bluefish and false albacore fishing has been very good. In Mt. Hope and Narragansett bays bluefish with striped bass under them have been surfacing. Henault said, “Angler Jim Gilbane was able to hook up with striped bass in the 21 to 25 inches range fishing under blue fish in Mt. Hope Bay Sunday when fishing with his son. We also have some large gator bluefish in the Providence River basin and in front of the Hurricane Barrier in Providence.” Ferrara said, “Bluefish are all over the bay with false albacore working their way up into the bay as they are following the bait that pushed into the bay with recent storms. Much of the false albacore activity is in the middle of the bay around Hope Island.”
Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shellfishing for over 40 years. He holds a captain’s master license and a charter fishing license. He is a RISAA board member, a member of the RI Party & Charter Boat Association and a member of the RI Marine Fisheries Council. Contact or forward fishing news and photos to Capt. Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at www.noflukefishing.com.