To the Editor:
It is encouraging news that wind farm developer Deepwater Wind is taking prudent steps to work with the Long Island fishing industry. “Deepwater Wind Hires New Fisheries Liaison, Continues Search for Long Island Fishery Representative,” Feb. 18.
Hiring a lifelong retired fisherman as liaison to the fishing community is a wise move. Fishermen need to hear from one of their own kind rather than a political lobbyist.
Fisherman on Block Island had similar concerns about how the wind turbines there would affect marine life. When they saw that the company was reaching out to them and listening to their concerns, their opposition began to dissolve. Now that the Block Island wind farm is operational, a positive outcome is that recreational fisherman are seeing some benefits. Fish populations seem to be attracted by the turbine platforms, which are like artificial reefs, rather that being disrupted by them.
Commercial fishermen have different concerns. They use nets, not rod and reel, and they harvest different species. The spacing of the wind turbines almost one mile apart may alleviate their fears about the turbine infrastructure obstructing their trawlers or damaging their nets.
These concerns are important. But it is critical that fishing interests keep in mind why we need wind turbines in the first place: to supply a renewable source of electricity. Climate change is underway, caused largely by the effects of burning fossil fuels. The oceans absorb much of the carbon and excess heat this generates, causing the oceans to warm and adversely affecting many fish species. Additionally, the ocean acidification caused by carbon absorption is deadly, already killing coral reefs throughout the world. Are the shellfish off Long Island next?
At the end of the day, the irreversible environmental damage of climate change is a far greater threat to the long-term livelihoods of fisherman than offshore wind turbines.
Let’s keep Governor Cuomo’s goal in mind: New York State needs to have 50 percent of its energy produced by renewables by 2030. That is only possible with the development of offshore wind.
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