Aug 19, 2011

Maine offshore windpower - Salazar says: No windmills in areas with "fishing sensitivities"

ORONO.  Maine. US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has announced  that his department will not allow ocean windfarms to be leased in areas of  the Gulf of Maine with "fishing sensitivities". The secretary spoke at the University of Maine's offshore windpower laboratory at its Orono campus August 18, 2011

The August 18th announcement came in response to continuing protests taking place at recent ocean windpower boosting events in Maine (see coverage  Here & Here and Here) and in response to concerns raised by the Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen's Association - an offshore fishery organization - that offshore windfarms will bar their industry nfrom vast areas of the Gulf and drive them to fishing grounds shoreward  where conflict with inshore fishers is inevitable. See AOLA's summary it its concerns, below. 

The goal of the protestors is to apply pressure on the Interior Department officials to move its minimum distances  for Gulf of Maine windfarms from the present plan -as near as ten miles from shore -  to accepting the University of Maine DeepCwind consortium's recommendations that they be site at least 20 miles offshore and preferably 40 to 70 miles offshore farther. Reasons - away from currents important for migration of lobster larvae,  and beyond the coastal seamounts  used by offshore lobstermen, groundfishermen and others.

Speaking at the University of Maine on August 18, 2011  Interior Secretary Salazar responded to  questioning by WCSH-TV reporter Mike Desumma and others by stating "If there are commercial fishery sensitivities...then we say 'Those are not the areas where we are going to build',"
- Salazar quoted in  WCSH TV's coverage: "Supporters, critics of offshore wind on hand for Ken Salazar's visitClick here forWCSH story.

The Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen's Association's leader Bonnie Spinnazola said  in an email to offshore windpower critics last week that vessel insurers had notified her organization that they will not insure boats fishing within Gulf of Maine windfarm areas which can cover huge areas. The AOLA said that fishermen who are thus displaced by offshore windfarms will be forced to fish inshore, reigniting old gear conflicts and renewing formerly resolved struggles over fishing territory.

"Downsizing of the fleets is a real possibility;" Spinnazola predicted. "As a result, fishermen leaving the fishery have no where to turn to sell their vessels or gear, thus their "retirement" is literally being scrapped before their eyes. This is a very grim outlook, yet this is the reality many will likely face."

Conservation group Penobscot Bay Watch has been sounding the alarm for more than two years that  according to ocean wind power researchers in Norway, the giant wind energy-extracting ocean turbines being considered for the Gulf of Maine can, by interrupting the Ekman Transport process whereby nature "forces"wind energy into the sea,  create beneath each ocean windfarm a vast slow upwelling eddy that pulls seafloor water to the surface from beneath it.  See simulation  These miles-wide columns of cold seawater can act as barriers that slow, or even divert existing water currents transiting through the area occupied by the windfarm.  When those currents are carrying lobster larvae from the Bay of Fundy to Midcoast Maine, slowdown or diversion could bring  dramatic declines in local lobster stocks, as larvae bound for the Maine coast find themselves shunted past and sent to Massachusetts Bay or to uncertain fates offshore.


Instead the DeepCwind consortium leader Habib Dagher has repeatedly called for distant water offshore  locations on the edges of  Jordan Basin or Wilkinson Basin, where the seawinds blow strongest and most predictably.

Bonnie Spinnazola, president  of AOLA supplied a friend the following "synopsis of our concerns" on August 9, 2011:


Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen's Association
"A brief synopsis of our concerns:

"The lobster industry is not against wind farms; our concerns stem from
issues related to exclusive area rights that will be granted.  There are
no wind farms, that I am aware of, that has been open to fishing.

"Further, should a company offer access, marine insurance companies have
already weighed-in saying they would not insure vessels fishing among the
turbines. Furthermore, considering the web of underwater lines fishing will,
undoubtedly, be nearly impossible.

"Therefore, when access to huge areas in the ocean in which the fishing industry
has historically fished, is limited or denied, naturally, this allows them less space
 in which to fish. 

"It is important to realize, the former statement is far more consequential than
it may seem.  Less space in the ocean crowds together gear sectors which have
for years, worked diligently to avoid one another; especially the mobile andfixed gear fleets.

Sometimes avoidance strategies have been successful, sometimes not; when
the latter occurs, it takes many fishing hours lost to untangle the gear (if they are lucky),
in many cases, it means many thousands of dollars in both time and gear lost.

"Hence, the loss of space in the ocean is a significant matter; downsizing
of the fleets is a real possibility; as a result, fishermen leaving the
fishery have no where to turn to sell their vessels or gear, thus their
"retirement" is literally being scrapped before their eyes.

"This is a very grim outlook, yet this is the reality many will likely face."


-Bonnie Spinnazola

End of synopsis



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