Offshore, Project Development

AWEA Releases Underwater Footage of Block Island Wind Farm’s Artificial Reef

When the Block Island Wind Farm (BIWF) foundations were put in place in 2015, many fishermen were worried. How would these giant metal formations set into the ocean change the game for commercial and recreational fisherman? Would they restrict fishing, causing these small business-owners to lose money and their livelihood?

After 6 months, their worries were starting to be alleviated and after just one year, they were completely gone. According to Chris Hobe, who has been fishing on the island since 1979, “within six months you had seed mussels,” he said in a webcast announcing the release of the footage. After one year those seed mussels had turned into a deep, thick coating of mature mussels, on which smaller fish feed, attracting the fish that feed on them and on and on up the food chain. Hobe added that a hammerhead shark was hunting in the region last summer for more than a week.

Another added bonus according to Hobe was the increased tourism that the turbines attracted. On a whim, his company offered to take the general public on tours around the turbines so they could see them up close. He never imagined the interest that would draw. By the end of the the 2017 summer season, Hobe said his company had stopped offering fishing excursions and was just doing sightseeing tours.

Engaging with all stakeholders is one of the most important aspects of building an offshore wind farm. Case in point is the now failed Cape Wind project, with its deep-pocketed opposition that killed the project after more than 10 years of lawsuits. In that case opponents were mainly concerned with views.

But if the underwater footage of the Block Island Wind Farm is any indication, fisherman, at the very least, should have no concerns with planned offshore wind farms near them.  

“We’re in the process of unlocking an entirely new American ocean energy resource with offshore wind. As the industry scales up in the U.S., communities up and down our coasts, especially in the Northeast, will want to know what offshore wind means for them,” said Stephanie McClellan, Director for the Special Initiative on Offshore Wind (SIOW), which was a partner on the project.

“When it comes to fishing, the science is convincing, but ultimately seeing is believing. That’s why we took an underwater videographer to Block Island to see for ourselves.”  

Play the video below to see for yourself.

Need more offshore wind information? Come to Renewable Energy World’s Offshore Wind Executive Summit in Houston, Texas. The summit takes place September 13 and 14. Hope you can make it.