Report: Offshore Wind's Impact on Atlantic Fisheries

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By MarEx 2017-04-04 20:10:15

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has released a report analyzing the effect of offshore wind on fisheries.

The report Socio-Economic Impact of Outer Continental Shelf Wind Energy Development on Fisheries in the U.S. Atlantic covers eight wind energy planning areas from Massachusetts to North Carolina. The report authors conclude that revenue exposure is generally within normal market dynamics. For example, the total cumulative exposure to commercial fisheries for all eight areas from 2007 to 2012 was 1.45 percent. This means that the annual revenue sourced from within all the areas is nearly equal to the historical fluctuation in fisheries revenue seen once every five years. 

Commercial and recreational fisheries play a significant part in the economy and food supply of the Atlantic outer continental shelf region. Between 2007 and 2012, an annual average of $966 million in commercial fishery revenue in the Atlantic outer continental shelf supported almost 17,500 jobs and provided $769 million in income per year in New England. 

In the Mid-Atlantic region, commercial fishery revenues supported over 17,000 jobs and provided $684 million per year in income.

In the Atlantic outer continental shelf region, the private boat and for-hire recreational fishery supported 13,602 full- and part-time jobs, generating $706 million in annual income and almost $1.7 billion in annual sales during that same period.

Analysis of commercial fisheries exposure based on percentage and absolute total revenue showed:

•    Ports most exposed in terms of total revenue. The ports of New Bedford, MA; Atlantic City, NJ; Cape May, NJ; and Narragansett, RI, are the most exposed to potential impacts from Wind energy area development in terms of total revenue.

•    Ports most exposed in terms of the percentage of total fishing revenue sourced from wind energy areas. Ports in North Carolina’s outer banks, Rhode Island, and Atlantic City, NJ, are the most exposed in terms of the percentage of total fishing revenue sourced from wind energy areas. 

•    Most exposed gear and vessel classes. Primary gears and vessel classes exposed to potential impacts from wind energy area development include clam and scallop dredge vessels greater than 50 feet in length from ports in New York and New Jersey, and pot and gillnet vessels less than 50 feet in length from ports in Rhode Island and the South Coast of Massachusetts.

•    Most exposed species by total revenue. Sea scallops represent the single most exposed species, with an average of $4.3 million in revenue sourced annually from wind energy areas between 2007 and 2012. Although this is the highest-revenue species sourced from within the proposed wind energy areas, the landings constitute only 1.0 percent of the total sea scallop landings over that same time period.

The analysis examined exposure and impacts on for-hire boats, as well as for-hire and private-boat angler trips. Recreational fishing aboard was considered “exposed” if it occurred within one nautical mile of a wind energy area during the study period (2007–2012).

•    For-hire boats. The total average annual for-hire boat gross revenues are $378.3 million, 6.3 percent ($23.9 million) of which is considered exposed to wind energy areas. A total of 1,438 for-hire boats reported fishing between 2007 and 2012, with 25.7 percent reporting fishing in or near the wind energy areas and considered exposed.

•    For-hire and private-boat angler trips. Over 103 million for-hire and private-boat angler trips occurred between 2007 and 2012, 3.8 percent of which are exposed to wind energy areas. New Jersey is the state most exposed to potential impacts of wind energy areas development on recreational fishing, as defined by the number of anglers, number of trips, and permits potentially affected.

The report is available here.

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