Research Projects Related To Offshore Wind & Recreational Fishing

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) announced the selection of additional research projects – made possible by the Offshore Wind Research and Monitoring Initiative (RMI) – to study potential impacts of offshore wind development on the recreational fishing industry.  As reported in The Fishing Wire, the next round of projects supported by RMI will use acoustic telemetry to track fish movements, deploy passive acoustic technologies to monitor whale movements, and evaluate offshore wind infrastructure as potential platforms for long-term environmental and ecological monitoring.

The projects have been selected to address short-term high-priority research needs, identified with input by stakeholders – including a variety of state, federal, fishing industry and environmental organizations – and the New Jersey Environmental Resources Working Group. The projects are supported through a $26 million fund administered by the state that received initial funding from two offshore wind developers as part of the BPU’s second offshore wind solicitation award.

“Development of offshore wind energy is a vital component of the Murphy Administration’s work to mitigate and respond to the worsening impacts of climate change,” said Commissioner of Environmental Protection Shawn M. LaTourette. “This round of projects will gather critical baseline scientific information that will help ensure the responsible development and operation of offshore wind facilities that protect our coastline and its natural resources that are precious to all of us.”

The Clean Energy and Sustainability Analytics Center at Montclair State University has been awarded $440,000 to assess the potential impacts of offshore wind energy on New Jersey’s recreational fishing industry. The researchers will conduct a survey of recreational anglers as part of a broader effort to estimate potential impacts to an industry that is an important driver of local economies.

Monmouth University and the New England Aquarium have been awarded $1.9 million to use acoustic telemetry to track fish movements along New Jersey’s coastline and in offshore wind lease areas. Species of interest – including endangered species and those that are important to commercial and recreational fishing – will be tagged with transmitters. Receivers placed strategically on the seabed will record their movements. The project will provide baseline data and become part of a larger acoustic telemetry network along the Eastern seaboard.

Allocation of $500,000 for deployment of passive acoustic monitoring systems on the seafloor to record the calls of baleen whale species, including the endangered North Atlantic right whale, to better understand the movements and behaviors of these animals. RMI will issue a contract for deployment of the equipment in the near future. Through this project, New Jersey will join a collaborative effort to support establishment of a regional detection network to avoid, minimize, and mitigate potential impacts on these animals during the construction and operation of offshore wind farms.

A team from Rutgers University, Monmouth University, the National Renewable Energy Lab, and the Special Initiative on Offshore Wind was awarded $285,000 to explore the potential use of offshore wind farms turbines, foundations, and substations as potential environmental and ecological monitoring platforms. This team will also gather input from a broad range of stakeholders to develop a conceptual plan for a regional network of environmental and ecological monitoring systems that would provide high-quality data on environmental and ecological conditions, commercial and recreational fisheries, and marine safety.