Success of NY Offshore Wind Industry Depends on Collaboration with Scallop Fishery


Success of NY Offshore Wind Industry Depends on Collaboration with Scallop Fishery

Louise Efthimiou
|July 13, 2020

Offshore wind is considered one of the most promising forms of renewable energy to expand this decade. According to the nonprofit World Forum Offshore Wind, technological advancements, global government support, and cost reductions have allowed the industry to play a greater role in electricity generation. Offshore wind is currently most prevalent in Western Europe, but this source of energy production is rapidly growing in countries such as China and the United States.

In New York State, Governor Cuomo’s 2018 Offshore Wind Master Plan outlines steps for offshore wind development until 2030. A first-of-its-kind document in the United States, the plan delineated a study area known as the New York Bight Call Area for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the agency responsible for energy projects in federal water, to consider for future projects. BOEM has recommended several areas of interest (see map below), and the oil and gas company Equinor secured an approximately $3 billion lease next to the area for its Empire Wind project.

While the Offshore Wind Master Plan can help New York secure 2.4 gigawatts of carbon-free electricity by 2020 (enough to power 1.2 million homes), the projects could also potentially compete with other activities, such as fishing, vessel traffic, conservation, and ocean science research. In the NY-NJ Bight, scallopers are concerned about offshore wind projects negatively impacting fisheries. Examining the spatial proximity between the region’s scallop fishery and offshore wind industry highlights the need for wind development companies to take fishermen’s concerns more seriously, so that both parties can coexist successfully.

map of scallop fishing and wind energy

A map of scallop fishing and wind energy recommendations in the NY-NJ Bight. A “secondary” recommendation is considered to be ”slightly more conflicted” than a “primary” recommendation. The Mid-Atlantic Access Area, Mid-Atlantic Exemption Area, and Georges Bank / Southern New England Scallop Dredge Exemption Area are designated for scallop fishing by the NEFMC. Source: NOAA Fisheries; BOEM. Map: Carolynne Hultquist

The NY-NJ Bight Call Area is valuable to the Atlantic sea scallop fishery, the largest wild scallop fishery in the world. In 2016, the scallop industry generated $486 million in landings revenue. As a point of comparison, the American lobster was the top species fished in 2016, with $667 million in landings revenue.

The New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) and NOAA Fisheries have managed the resource under the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan since 1982. Sea scallops were declared overfished in 1997, but actions to limit the amount of vessels at sea, update fishing equipment, and periodically close off certain fishing areas led to the sustainable management of the resource. Every year, the NEFMC publishes “framework adjustments” to its plan. These frameworks delineate new areas for scallopers to fish in depending on the vessels’ permit. Some areas are closed off for research or to protect young scallops.

The proximity (and sometimes overlap) between rich scallop beds, scallop vessel activity, and the offshore wind proposal has provoked conflict between the two industries. In the NEFMC’s most recent framework submitted in March 2020 (Framework 32), a section discusses how offshore wind energy is expected to have a negative impact on scallop habitat and fishing activity in the future.

map of biomass and wind energy areas

Scallop fishing areas and biomass in relation to the wind energy areas. While the richest scallop beds do not exactly coincide with the wind energy areas, their closeness has caused concern. Source: NOAA Fisheries; BOEM; Virginia Institute of Marine Science, School of Marine Science and Technology at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Map: Carolynne Hultquist

An article in City & State notes that in 2018, scallopers and supporting advocacy groups sued BOEM for having failed to evaluate alternative options for Equinor’s Empire Wind lease. While the Offshore Wind Master Plan requires wind developers to work with community, environmental and fishing groups, tensions between regional marine stakeholders persist.

Scalloper concerns can be grouped into three categories: 1) Negative effects of turbine construction and underwater grid connection on scallop habitat; 2) Risks and restricted fishing activity from wind farm infrastructure; and 3) The consequences of restricted fishing activity, which is the increased competition for the same resources within smaller areas.

For the first concern, BOEM published a report in 2015 highlighting the negative effects of wind farm construction on scallop filter feeding abilities and larval dispersal from changes in sedimentation and currents. An article for the Poughkeepsie Journal states that fishers are also worried that the process of burying connection cables into the ground will disrupt habitats. In response to this concern, an offshore wind representative said that placing the cables underground would actually help preserve fishing grounds in the long run.

There is an overall lack of information on the environmental impacts of offshore wind farms in the United States. Where the sector is more established in Northern Europe, results of ecological impact studies are still unclear and it is difficult to distinguish long-term from short-term effects.

In regards to the second concern, there are risks of vessels striking a turbine or getting fishing gear caught in underwater infrastructure, which can damage gear or capsize the boat. To address this risk, BOEM identified a five-mile wide corridor across the New York Bight for vessel traffic. For a site on the New England coast (north of the NY-NJ Bight), wind developers proposed building appropriate spacing between the rows of turbines.

Lastly, fishermen are concerned that the potential displacement of fishing activity from the wind farms could increase competition for the same scallop resources in the NY-NJ Bight and drive smaller vessels out of business. It is also worth evaluating how increased fishing activity in confined areas could affect the sustainability of the resource. Given the absence of data for the region, “perceptions” and “opinions” make up some of the literature on these issues. Nevertheless, social science studies provide key insights for policymakers and offshore wind developers to consider in their research and planning processes.

To address the conflict between the Mid-Atlantic region’s scallop and offshore wind industries scientific data is needed to 1) understand the ecological impact of offshore wind farms; 2) understand the effects of offshore wind farms on vessel traffic; and 3) concretely address the concerns of the fishing community.

In essence, fishing and offshore wind energy are not at odds with each other. Green energy can contribute to a healthier environment, which is important for all fisheries. However, offshore wind represents a new use of marine resources that can disrupt existing activities. As such, this conflict represents an inefficiency in the integration process required for the industry’s development.

It is also important to consider the alternatives. Offshore wind can help to solve graver issues affecting the region’s valuable scallop beds, such as ocean acidification from climate change. According to the United Nations, acidification is a looming threat for ocean ecosystems around the world. Research by NOAA shows that acidic waters dissolve scallop shells, and such stress forces scallops to allocate more energy to maintaining their shells than to growth and reproduction.

In late 2019, a huge scallop die-off in the Peconic Bay was linked to a coccidian parasite. Although the victims were the Peconic Bay scallops (a species different from the Atlantic sea scallop), current research is determining whether the presence of the parasite was triggered by environmental factors like warmer bay waters linked to climate change.

While there is a risk of getting fishing equipment caught in underwater offshore wind infrastructure, the NY-NJ Bight is full of dredging spoils, industrial waste, sewage sludge and chemical weapons that scallopers can unintentionally haul onto their vessels. Offshore wind is part of a larger shift away from this poor treatment of marine ecosystems and towards more sustainable ocean and coastal management through spatially aware marine planning.

The New York State Offshore Wind Master Plan’s mandate to form a strong link with the fishing community is a crucial component of the holistic solutions needed to achieve these sustainable development outcomes. Yet, this conflict suggests that greater collaboration is needed in the NY-NJ Bight area.

On this front, progress is being made: on March 11th, 2020, the NEFMC announced that one of its 12 research projects (Research Set Aside Program led by Rutgers University) will analyze the economic impacts of offshore wind energy development on the commercial sea scallop fishery. On May 20th, 2020, a $1.1 million grant was awarded to four institutions by BOEM and others to support regional fisheries studies that are important for the development of offshore wind in the Northeastern U.S.

Louise Efthimiou is an alum of the MPA-ESP program, Class of 2020. This piece was adapted from her final paper for the class Quantifying the Financial Impacts of Climate Change taught by Professor Marco Tedesco at Columbia University (Sustainability Science PS5250). The focus of the course is to link data and quantitative measures to estimate climate risks for different sectors. Special thanks to Postdoctoral Research Scientist Carolynne Hultquist for helping with the maps and providing guidance on this assignment.

If you’re interested in learning more about the MPA-ESP program, please contact the assistant director, Stephanie Hoyt (, or join us at one of our upcoming online information sessions. Register here.

24 Replies to “Success of NY Offshore Wind Industry Depends on Collaboration with Scallop Fishery”

  1. Thank you for all your work on this web page. Betty really likes making time for research and it is simple to grasp why. Most people know all regarding the lively medium you provide both interesting and useful things by means of your website and recommend contribution from other people about this topic while our favorite simple princess is truly starting to learn a whole lot. Enjoy the rest of the new year. You’re the one conducting a good job.

  2. I together with my friends have been viewing the best secrets located on the website and so immediately I had an awful feeling I never expressed respect to the blog owner for those techniques. These young men were definitely absolutely glad to study all of them and have now surely been enjoying these things. Appreciation for truly being indeed helpful and also for obtaining these kinds of quality issues most people are really desirous to know about. My very own sincere regret for not expressing gratitude to you sooner.

  3. I am writing to make you know of the superb discovery my wife’s child went through checking your webblog. She discovered such a lot of details, not to mention what it is like to have an excellent giving style to let other individuals with no trouble completely grasp several problematic topics. You actually did more than my expected results. Thanks for providing such invaluable, trusted, explanatory and also fun tips on the topic to Sandra.

  4. A lot of thanks for your own work on this web page. Betty enjoys carrying out investigation and it is easy to see why. We learn all relating to the lively manner you present sensible tricks on the web site and in addition encourage contribution from some others on this area while our simple princess is becoming educated a great deal. Take advantage of the remaining portion of the new year. You have been conducting a remarkable job.

  5. I have to express my passion for your kindness in support of men who require help on this particular area of interest. Your very own dedication to getting the solution along turned out to be particularly informative and has in every case encouraged men and women just like me to realize their pursuits. This informative help and advice denotes much to me and even more to my office workers. Thanks a ton; from all of us.

  6. I am just writing to let you understand of the wonderful discovery my child obtained visiting the blog. She discovered many issues, most notably what it is like to have an excellent giving nature to get most people with ease master selected grueling topics. You undoubtedly did more than visitors’ expectations. I appreciate you for producing the practical, healthy, explanatory as well as easy tips on that topic to Ethel.

  7. I am commenting to let you know of the superb encounter my wife’s princess found visiting your blog. She even learned a wide variety of details, most notably how it is like to have an amazing giving mindset to make folks without hassle learn a variety of extremely tough things. You undoubtedly did more than our expected results. I appreciate you for displaying the invaluable, dependable, informative and unique thoughts on the topic to Ethel.

  8. I must show my appreciation to the writer just for bailing me out of this particular problem. As a result of checking through the world-wide-web and seeing principles which are not productive, I assumed my entire life was over. Existing without the strategies to the issues you have sorted out all through your main blog post is a serious case, and those which could have badly affected my entire career if I had not encountered your web blog. Your natural talent and kindness in dealing with almost everything was precious. I don’t know what I would’ve done if I had not discovered such a stuff like this. It’s possible to at this time look forward to my future. Thanks a lot very much for this expert and amazing help. I won’t be reluctant to refer your web page to any individual who needs to have guidance on this issue.

  9. I in addition to my pals have already been examining the good guides located on your site and before long I had an awful suspicion I had not thanked the site owner for those secrets. All of the men had been as a result joyful to read them and have in effect in truth been making the most of those things. Thank you for really being very helpful and also for getting variety of excellent subject matter millions of individuals are really wanting to be aware of. Our sincere regret for not expressing appreciation to you earlier.

  10. I precisely wished to say thanks again. I’m not certain what I could possibly have made to happen without the type of smart ideas revealed by you directly on that industry. Previously it was an absolute frustrating issue in my view, but considering the very specialized form you treated that forced me to leap for delight. Now i’m happier for the work and thus hope you really know what an amazing job you happen to be doing teaching most people all through your web site. Most likely you have never encountered all of us.

  11. I would like to convey my admiration for your kind-heartedness for folks that require help with this important area of interest. Your real commitment to passing the message all over ended up being incredibly significant and has consistently made professionals much like me to arrive at their aims. Your entire useful guide entails much a person like me and further more to my mates. Regards; from everyone of us.

  12. I simply desired to appreciate you yet again. I am not sure the things that I could possibly have handled in the absence of the type of opinions contributed by you directly on that area of interest. It was a real depressing issue in my view, however , being able to see this professional style you resolved it took me to jump for joy. Now i’m thankful for your support and as well , hope you recognize what an amazing job you are putting in training the others all through a web site. More than likely you have never met all of us.

  13. Thanks a lot for giving everyone an extremely splendid possiblity to read from here. It’s usually very fantastic plus jam-packed with a good time for me personally and my office acquaintances to search your site no less than thrice weekly to read through the latest secrets you have. And of course, I am also certainly impressed concerning the beautiful inspiring ideas you give. Certain 4 points in this posting are in truth the most efficient I have had.

  14. I enjoy you because of your entire labor on this web site. Kate delights in setting aside time for investigations and it’s simple to grasp why. My partner and i know all about the compelling medium you convey simple guides through your blog and in addition foster contribution from visitors about this theme plus my simple princess is really becoming educated a lot of things. Take pleasure in the rest of the year. Your doing a dazzling job.

  15. Thank you so much for providing individuals with such a memorable opportunity to discover important secrets from this blog. It’s always very nice and jam-packed with a good time for me personally and my office acquaintances to visit your blog on the least 3 times every week to learn the fresh tips you will have. Not to mention, we are certainly fascinated considering the very good advice you give. Certain 3 tips in this posting are surely the most effective we have ever had.

  16. I must express my affection for your kindness supporting persons that really need help on this niche. Your very own dedication to getting the message throughout came to be rather beneficial and has always made somebody much like me to attain their endeavors. This helpful guideline implies a whole lot to me and extremely more to my colleagues. Warm regards; from each one of us.

  17. I wanted to create you that little bit of word to help give many thanks yet again for your personal beautiful guidelines you have provided at this time. It is quite extremely generous with people like you to present unreservedly all that most of us would have offered as an e book to end up making some cash for themselves, precisely now that you might well have done it in the event you decided. Those solutions additionally worked like the great way to recognize that other people have the same keenness just like my very own to know significantly more when it comes to this condition. I think there are lots of more pleasant occasions up front for many who see your website.

  18. I am glad for commenting to make you understand of the great discovery my child gained viewing your site. She learned many details, not to mention what it is like to possess an amazing coaching character to let the others very easily gain knowledge of chosen problematic subject matter. You actually did more than our desires. Thanks for offering such practical, trustworthy, revealing not to mention fun guidance on your topic to Kate.

  19. I want to express my admiration for your kind-heartedness giving support to visitors who actually need guidance on this subject matter. Your special dedication to getting the solution all around had become extraordinarily advantageous and has always permitted associates like me to arrive at their endeavors. The interesting hints and tips indicates this much to me and still more to my office workers. Warm regards; from each one of us.

  20. I happen to be writing to make you know what a brilliant encounter my cousin’s girl experienced viewing your webblog. She noticed several pieces, which include how it is like to have a great coaching style to get men and women clearly know various very confusing matters. You truly surpassed readers’ expected results. I appreciate you for distributing the informative, safe, explanatory and in addition cool tips about the topic to Gloria.

  21. I together with my guys have already been reviewing the excellent things located on your site and then unexpectedly I got an awful suspicion I had not thanked the blog owner for those techniques. All of the men came as a consequence glad to read through them and have now undoubtedly been having fun with those things. Appreciate your being quite thoughtful and for choosing some smart issues millions of individuals are really wanting to discover. Our own sincere apologies for not expressing appreciation to earlier.

  22. I must voice my admiration for your kind-heartedness giving support to those who really need help on the idea. Your very own commitment to getting the solution throughout had become certainly good and have without exception made ladies like me to attain their goals. This warm and helpful help and advice means a lot a person like me and extremely more to my office workers. Regards; from everyone of us.

  23. I and also my friends have been taking note of the nice key points located on your site and then before long developed an awful suspicion I never expressed respect to the website owner for those tips. Those boys ended up as a consequence joyful to learn them and have really been loving those things. Thank you for genuinely so considerate and for going for this kind of perfect guides most people are really desirous to understand about. My very own honest apologies for not expressing appreciation to sooner.

  24. My husband and i ended up being really satisfied that Michael could complete his analysis out of the ideas he discovered out of your blog. It’s not at all simplistic to just always be giving for free helpful hints that many other folks could have been selling. Therefore we take into account we need the website owner to give thanks to because of that. The illustrations you made, the easy web site navigation, the friendships you can give support to promote – it’s got most fabulous, and it’s really making our son in addition to us feel that that content is enjoyable, and that’s unbelievably pressing. Thanks for all the pieces!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *