Fishing companies fight wind farm planned off coast of New York and New Jersey
By Cliff White, Editor
Published on Thursday, January 05, 2017
A lawsuit filed by fishing companies and local communities in New Jersey is seeking to halt the development of a large wind farm planned off the coasts of New York and New Jersey.
The Fisheries Survival Fund, representing the majority of the limited access U.S. Atlantic scallop industry, has led the legal fight against the wind farm, filing suit in December against the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to prevent it from executing a lease for the proposed New York Wind Energy Area.
Other plaintiffs in the suit include SeaFreeze Shoreside and The Town Dock of Naragansett, Rhode Island; Sea Fresh USA of North Kingstown, Rhode Island; the Garden State Seafood Association and the Fishermen’s Dock Co-Operative in New Jersey; the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association in New York; and the Rhode Island Fishermen’s Alliance.
The area slated for development is a 127-square-mile patch of ocean, beginning about 11 miles south of Jones Beach in New York and stretching southwest towards New Jersey, that is currently fished extensively for sea scallop and longfin squid.
The lawsuit argues that the area serves as essential fish habitat and grounds for other commercially important species, including black sea bass and summer flounder, according to Saving Seafood, an advocacy organization funded by the seafood industry. A BOEM study showed trawlers harvest at least USD 3.3 million (EUR 3.1 million) worth of scallops annually in the affected area.
The lawsuit states that fishermen’s concerns regarding the location of the lease area received “virtually no attention or analysis” from BOEM officials and that the bureau failed to identify the proposed wind farm’s environmental and economic impacts. The suit also raises concerns that the area in question is frequented by loggerhead sea turtles and critically endangered North Atlantic right whales.
The Associated Press has reported that Judge Tanya Chutkan of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia has issued an order that the BOEM must provide 14 days notice before the lease is executed. If and when that happens, the judge ruled she will expedite the hearing on the lawsuit so as to ensure the plaintiffs’ concerns are ruled on before the lease is finalized.
The case’s next hearing date will take place 8 February, 2017.
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