US Windfarm Fishing Facts For Anglers
The windfarms will benefit fishing with huge reef structures.
A couple Wednesdays ago, I attended a briefing for Delaware recreational fishermen given by US Wind. Most of you are familiar with Orsted aka Skipjack, who has the offshore wind lease area that’s off the coast of Delaware. US Wind owns the rights to a lease area that stretches from the Fenwick Island latitudes south down the Maryland coast past Ocean City. The presentation covered basic information about their project, but focused most on the issues that matter to fishermen, catching fish.
I’d like to point out a few things first …
Many complain about the possibility of the wind turbine lubricant leaking and then post pics of one leaking. There is more oil and gas leaked in the Lewes canal in a summer season, than an entire wind farm. You can go there right now (the canal) and the rainbows are a plenty on the water. Nuclear power plant Salem 1 is allowed to leak X amount of tritium, legally. I’ve seen some of your boat bilges, complaining about leaking lubricant is such a moot comparison.
Also .. Yes it takes materials, and energy to build wind turbines, these are not made of fairy dust, hope, and sunshine. However the point of saying Green energy, that escapes many, wind energy produces ZERO pollution or emissions from producing energy. THAT is the green part, which relates to a lot of advantages. There was a study done in Europe using 6MW turbines (less efficient than US Winds) that showed they paid back the cost of all the energy consumed in harvesting raw materials, turning them into components, shipping them and installing them in a little over 7 months. The remaining 30 years lifespan to produce clean power is gravy.
I give you the NRG Indian River power plant for comparison. Windfarms produce zero smoke, dust, or ash. The NRG power plant on Indian river has a island of coal ash there. It was once mentioned to the town of Millsboro in a meeting a few years ago, that it would cost well over 100 million to clean up the ash and fix that issue. It will become another brown zone in Delaware and was never mentioned in any town meeting again. Constantly washing into the Indian River and inland bays. Much like the Vlasic pickle plant new brown zone. Oddly I can still buy those pickles, yet that company was allowed to pollute, not pay, and then leave. NRG is leaving too, are they taking that ash with them? DNREC … YOU PAYING ATTENTION?
Also there is the coal ash out of the smoke stacks, even after those fancy scrubbers. The cancer cluster in the area has been proven and has effected friends and family.
I have a friend who has a pole barn that loses paint on one side of the roof, bare every few years. The coal dust mixed with morning dew on the roof creates acid that eats the paint off completely (acid rain). This only happens on the side facing the powerplant.
I know all this because my friends and family all live in that area and have for a very long time, some before the plant was built.
During the covid lockdowns we got a glimpse of what this world could look like with less air and water pollution, if just for a few months. Smog cleared up and the difference could be seen from satellites. The waterways cleared up as well. Less boat and ship traffic. More renewable, nonpolluting byproduct energy means less shipping of coal, gas, etc. Less impact on our waterways. Many of those jobs replaced by windfarm jobs too.
Anyway … back to about US wind’s project and why it is going to be amazing for fishing, or more specifically catching.
US Wind’s lease area is 80,000 acres and can hold almost 2,000 MW of offshore wind capacity, which can power more than half a million homes. At its closest point, the lease area is 12 miles from the coast and extends back 26 miles (below, left). To date, US Wind has won the right to develop almost 1,100 MW of energy – enough to power about 350,000 area homes. That’ll use up about 2/3 of the lease area, with turbines to be laid out as in the picture (below, right). In this array, the closest turbine would be about 15 miles from Fenwick Island, 17 miles from Bethany, about 25 from Dewey and 26 from Rehoboth. If it is developed, the remaining 1/3 of US Wind’s lease area could produce another ~ 700 MW of offshore wind energy.
First, the lease area will be open for fishing, and with the turbines spread roughly a mile apart, navigating between them will be easy. Seriously if you hit one of these you are not paying attention, or Captain Morgan is driving. There is a nice advantage for some of the offshore charter anglers. You can fish the farms on the way out, or in, or both.
For those who head far offshore, trips to Wilmington Canyon, Baltimore Canyon and Washington Canyon from the Inlet won’t pass through the lease area.
Heading to Poorman’s Canyon will take you through the lease area, but again, navigating it will be easy. That said, once the turbines are in place, you’re going to want to fish there. The turbine foundations and the scour protection around them create great habitat that draws in a ton of fish. Check out this video of the marine life around one of the demonstration turbines off the coast of Virginia. This is after ONLY ONE YEAR!
Seriously, we’re going to love fishing the wind farms.
I know guys who spearfish the wind turbines up north off block island. The amount of life on these structures is amazing. The economic impact from people wanting to fish the wind farms will be large for this area. Some people pay just to go out and look at the turbines and take selfies. A new tourism industry has popped up near these turbines. Crazy, but people don’t even want to fish, just look at the turbines. Cha-ching for a captain.
All the turbines and offshore substations will have Coast Guard Aids to Navigation. Significant peripheral structures will have lighting at the bottom of the structure that can be seen from 5 nautical miles (NM) away, directional fog signals, and AIS. Other exterior structures will have lights that can be seen from 3 NM away and AIS. Interior structures will have lights that can be seen from 2 NM away. None of this lighting will be visible from shore. The turbines will also have FAA required lighting, but US Wind has committed to using Aircraft Detection Lighting System (ADLS) technology, which only turns on when a low flying aircraft is nearby. Based on past history, that won’t happen very often.
Don’ take my word for it ask these folks yourself. I’m hoping to get them to do another public outreach for anglers soon too. If you’ve got any fishing related questions, you can reach out to either of US Wind’s two fisheries liaisons – Wolfgang Rain at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Ron Larson at email@example.com. This is how I get my questions answered.
US Wind has been surveying the sea floor in the lease area since last year and has a little more work still to complete. Expect to see US Wind survey vessels in the nearshore area along the Delaware coast in the spring. This survey work is occurring now and is not very invasive. Small equipment in a small area that is there for under a day in most cases. It will not affect fishing as many think it will.
Also if US wind or any wind company tells you they are in an area. Then don’t fish there, people have literally done this then complained later after being warned. I mean they tell you not to and you do anyway? Glutton for punishment?
Over the next couple months, US Wind hopes to hear that the federal government has approved their Construction and Operations Plan (COP). The COP lays out every detail of the project, as well as any risks it will create and how US Wind will mitigate them. Once the COP is approved, it becomes public, and US Wind encourages everyone to read it and to reach out with any questions. Their Delaware Development Manager, Mike Dunmyer lives in Lewes and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After the COP is approved, US Wind will go through a two-year National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) process where their plans are assessed against every federal environmental law, with several opportunities for public input. If the feds approve the project after NEPA, US Wind will be able to begin construction offshore. If things go according to schedule, construction will begin in 2024, with the first 270 MW of power connecting to the grid by 2025, and the other 808 MW completed in 2026/27.