Louisiana lift boat operators helped build the Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island. Completed in 2016, the project was the first offshore wind farm in U.S. waters. 

One of the questions put to the push for a Gulf wind farm is what is the impact on fishing. Are the spacing lines wide enough? What will the base and tower in the water do to the number and the ease in catching them? Now these questions and more re being asked.

With the development of offshore wind energy in the Gulf of Mexico likely within a few years, federal regulators are beginning to assess how wind farms will affect commercial and recreational fisheries. On Dec. 15, agencies that regulate offshore energy and fisheries will hold a workshop for the Gulf’s fishers. The input they gather will help guide the planning and permitting of wind farm lease areas, and potentially lead to mitigation for fishers affected by turbines, transmission lines and related infrastructure. East Coast fishers are concerned that an expected boom in wind farm construction off the coasts of New England, New York and Virginia will crowd them out and make fishing more dangerous. The country’s first offshore wind farm, a five-turbine project built in Rhode Island in 2016, was small enough that it didn’t get in the way of fishing boats, but its transmission lines to the shore have snagged many fishing nets. Gulf fishers have the same concerns. “Offshore wind energy development in the Gulf of Mexico is a topic of extreme concern to the region’s fishermen and fishing-dependent communities,” the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance, a fishing industry advocacy group, said in a letter to the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management, or BOEM. Floating offshore wind structures proposed by some companies for the Gulf could be a “de facto closure to fishing.” The mooring lines and flexible cabling that may come with floating turbines will make all types of commercial fishing “unsafe and thus unlikely,” the letter said.


The first thing I will say is in the years I have been living I have never seen the doomsday predictions to appear. Industry adapts and continues to make money.

BOEM, which regulates offshore energy industries, has promised to improve and refine the wind energy leasing process, with greater input from fishers, before leasing begins in the Gulf in 2025. The Dec. 15 workshop is part of that process. BOEM officials say they’ll present information on wind energy leasing, environmental assessments and how fishers may submit input during the public comment process. The agency will also take comments at the event. BOEM stressed that the workshop is open to the public but attendees who are not fishers or associated with fishing industries are asked to listen only. Workshop registration and other information is available at boem.gov/renewable-energy/fishing-industry-communication-and-engagement. Comments may be made at regulations.gov/document/BOEM-2021-0083-0001.

Short, brief and to the point. If the BOEM is transparent this may be a good working relationship as we get more renewable energy.

are windmills and fishing compatible?
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