IMPACTS OF OFFSHORE WIND
Will offshore wind turbines affect wildlife or human health?
Offshore wind developers should use the best available underwater noise reduction technologies and other important strategies to protect marine mammals. Stringent speed restrictions for project-related vessels and comprehensive monitoring during construction and throughout the life of the project are also important practices for protecting marine mammals during offshore wind development activities. In addition, proper timing of development activities can significantly reduce risk to migrating whales, like the North Atlantic Right Whale which is legally protected under both federal and state endangered species laws.
Wind turbines must be sited in the far offshore environment to minimize interaction in critical habitat and migration areas along the Atlantic seaboard, which are important to millions of birds. Research shows that bird densities decrease as a function of distance from shore. Developers should also take additional steps to monitor and limit potential impacts throughout the life of the project.
How will offshore wind turbines impact commercial and recreational fishing?
Experience shows that there are minimal impacts to fishing from offshore wind energy development. Both commercial and recreational fishing can continue in close proximity to offshore wind turbines, as proven to be the case in Europe and at the Block Island Wind Farm, America’s first offshore wind project. While some fishing gear types may face specific challenges in compatibility with offshore wind turbines, impacts on marine fisheries can be significantly minimized through responsible siting, project design and construction techniques.
Additionally, offshore wind turbine foundations – in Europe as well as here on the U.S. Atlantic coast – have been found to enhance fish habitat by serving as artificial reefs and supporting a variety of marine life. For commercial fishing, the placement and protection of power cables on the sea floor is an important consideration. For recreational fishing, ensuring fishing access right up to base of the turbines is essential and can spark tourism and other economic activity associated with interest in these new fishing hot spots.