US West Coast fishermen bristle against newly announced wind farm projects

Mike Conroy, the executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Association, hoped he’d have a little more time to get ready before the federal government planned to move forward with offshore wind energy projects on the U.S. West Coast. But that was before the U.S. Department of the Interior announcement on Tuesday, 25 May, indicating two areas off the California coast would be targeted for wind energy projects.

“I believe that a clean energy future is within our grasp in the United States, but it will take all of us and the best-available science to make it happen. Today’s announcement reflects months of active engagement and dedication between partners who are committed to advancing a clean energy future,” U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a press release. “The offshore wind industry has the potential to create tens of thousands of good-paying union jobs across the nation, while combating the negative effects of climate change. Interior is proud to be part of an all-of-government approach toward the Biden-Harris administration's ambitious renewable energy goals.”

The federal government said, if built as planned, the California projects will generate up to 4.6 gigawatts of energy, enough to power 1.6 million homes.

While wind energy may create jobs, commercial fishermen are concerned what the projects, including a nearly 400-square-mile wind farm in Morro Bay off the state’s central coast, means for theirs.

In a statement, Conroy said government did not engage with fishermen during the process. His association also criticized the government for holding a public hearing on 24 June, the same day the Pacific Fishery Management Council starts its June meeting. The group said fishermen will now have to choose between attending a council meeting to discuss sustainable fisheries or attending a meeting where they may hear about “dire consequences” to the fishing community.

Conroy, in the statement, said the group has concerns about what wind turbines may do to marine ecosystems, as well as what construction of the massive machines may do for fishing stocks.

“Far too many questions remain unanswered regarding potential impacts to marine life which is dependent on a healthy ecosystem,” he said.

Photo courtesy of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations


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