We will not restrict fishing in the Lease Area or around our wind turbines once constructed. It is our intent to coexist with the fishing community. To ensure safety of mariners and Atlantic Shores team, there could be temporary exceptions to this during the construction phase. We will work closely with mariner and fishing communities at the appropriate time if temporary exceptions are necessary.
Government and academic studies in the U.S. and Europe show that reef effects can occur on offshore wind platforms and such effects can change the abundance, distribution, and diversity of fish species, even enhancing ocean habits and fish communities. The influence of turbines and scour materials as reefs will depend on a number of factors, from trends in migratory fish movements, climate trends on distribution of fish, to type of scour materials used around offshore wind foundations. Atlantic Shores is working with government agencies, ROSA, and research institutions, such as Stockton University, to initiate and fund research that will help to answer these questions.
Changes in flatfish distribution and abundance depend on where the studies were conducted in Europe. Studies at U.S. wind projects show that flatfish were not affected by offshore wind construction or operation and that abundances were not impacted by pile-driving or cable-laying activities (study found here). Wind construction and operations were also shown not to be associated with flatfish variability in the area. Observing flatfish in our Project Area will be part of Atlantic Shores fisheries baseline, construction and operations monitoring programs.
Atlantic Shores is conducting geophysical surveys with multi-beam echosounders to map the seafloor in our Project Area. This specific equipment is used by government, universities, and mariners to map and monitor changes to the seafloor and habitats over time, to support navigational safety and port operations, and to monitor offshore equipment, including submarine cables. Atlantic Shores will continue this survey method to monitor our Project Area. Studies and fieldwork using this equipment to study fish and their habitats, have shown that the sound produced by this equipment has not resulted in mortality or injury to fish. More information can be found here: https://dosits.org/people-and-sound/investigate-marine-animals/active-acoustics-fisheries/
As stated above, Atlantic Shores will not restrict fishing in the Lease Area or around our Project Area once turbines are constructed. If fact, we hope that the recreational fishing community will benefit from the turbine structures in our Project Area. We do understand that there may be some short-term disruptions to activities during the construction period. We look forward to continued engagement and information exchange with fishing community so that we can minimize any temporary impacts to fishing in our Project Area.
Atlantic Shores is analyzing all types of vessels transiting the Project Area, from pleasure and fishing vessels to cargo vessels and everything between. Based on reviews of vessel transit data, wind turbine rows are planned in an orientation supporting the predominant direction of transit. Wind turbines in the Project Area will be aligned in uniform grid meaning the same distance between turbine rows and then the same distance between turbines along each row. This provides navigation certainty in all directions within the Project Area.
The Lease Area and export cable routes are planned to avoid state and federal artificial reefs. These designated artificial reefs will also be avoided during construction and maintenance of the project. If new federal and/or state artificial reef locations are established, these will also be included in our project design planning and avoided.
The state of New Jersey has an intensive program to construct and monitor artificial reefs in waters along the coast. Atlantic Shores will coordinate with New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife Bureau of Marine Fisheries to investigate if there are opportunities to create new artificial reefs for enhancing fish habitat near our Project Area.
Scour protection materials used at the base of our wind turbine foundations could result in reef effects to surrounding fish and fisheries – this phenomenon has been observed around Europe and U.S. offshore wind turbines and many other infrastructure types located in federal waters. To understand reef effects that may occur in and around our foundations, Atlantic Shores is working with Stockton University to examine how offshore wind materials and structure types may influence New Jersey recreational fisheries. Based on fishermen’s input during the listening sessions, we plan to extend this work to investigate how reef effects could differ or be similar to existing artificial reefs outside the Project Area and which materials could be most suitable for supporting long-lasting artificial reefs in our Project Area. If you are interested in this topic, please reach out to Captains Wark and Nowalsky.
The development process for Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind is already underway, including research and permitting. This phase could potentially extend up to five years. Subject to a positive final investment decision, the wind project could deliver electricity by the mid-2020s.
Construction of Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind is privately funded through a joint venture between EDF Renewables North America and Shell New Energies.
Wind turbines will be marked and illuminated based on requirements established by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and the Federal Aviation and Administration (FAA). Wind developers are working with mariners and agencies to determine best practices for lighting and marking that meet needs of mariners.