U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has sent a letter to BOEM expressing concern for the possible negative impacts the Vineyard Wind project could have on fisheries, marine life and habitats.
The letter represents NOAA’s public comment on BOEM’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the 800MW offshore wind project in Massachusetts.
NOAA stated that “the most accurate or updated data on fishery landings and associated revenue have not been integrated into the DEIS” and some of the most prominent fisheries operating in the lease area are not fully characterized.
According to the agency, the document does not show that data provided by the fishing industry and automatic identification and vessel monitoring systems that could provide an alternative spacing and orientation of the turbine layout was considered and analyzed.
The letter writes that the DEIS does not fully address the potential economic impacts associated with the displacement of fisheries, which is important because fishermen will move to another area if displaced, causing increased fuel costs and longer trips, as well as the possibility that the fish are not even found in that area.
In order to fully evaluate fisheries operations, NOAA suggested the evaluation of additional information including the number and type of vessels that may be impacted, their reliance upon the area and the scale of the potential impact caused by displacement.
NOAA also issued concerns related to pile driving saying the analysis of potential impacts to biological resources is limited and somewhere unclear: “Related to fish and fisheries, there is limited analysis of areas of mortality, injury, and behavioral impacts, particularly spawning activity for relevant species and potential loss in catch resulting from pile driving activities.”
Vineyard Wind will feature MHI Vestas 9.5MW turbines located some 14 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. The 800MW project will enter the construction phase this year and is expected to be operational in 2021.