Measuring the impacts of offshore wind farms on recreational fishing

Measuring the impacts of offshore wind farms on recreational fishing

The University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography held a webinar last Wednesday titled “Recreational Fishing and Offshore Wind Energy: Understanding Changing Behavior.” About ninety people attended the two-and-a-half-hour webinar which will be followed by an in-person workshop in the near future.

“We are here to identify ways to understand the impact and changes in recreational fishing behavior,” said webinar organizer Jennifer McCann, director of U.S. Coastal Programs at the Coastal Resource Center, URI Graduate School of Oceanography and director of extension programs at Rhode Island Sea Grant, who initiated the webinar. Because of offshore wind energy.

Highlights of the meeting included studies that used existing data today as well as a survey of anglers plotted on a marine chart of fly fishing hot spots.

Scott Steinbeck, a fisheries economist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shared his study that used the database of a smartphone fishing app called FishID to determine what was caught in wind farm lease areas. Steinbeck is currently exploring follow-up studies that also use the recreational fishing app FishBrains, which provides photos of your catch, interacts with social media, and provides data on current conditions when your fish was caught, such as tides, seas, wind, temperature, etc. The data provided by a second study using FishBrains is very exciting especially if it can continue to identify species caught in the wind farm area while trying to estimate extraction rates for fish caught inside and outside the wind farm areas.

Jeffrey Kneebone, senior scientist in the Fisheries Sciences and Emerging Technologies Program at the New England Aquarium, reports on his work analyzing historical data on high migratory species (HMS) such as sharks and tuna to determine the species and number of fish caught in and out of wind farm areas. The beauty of his study approach is that it can be replicated every day, month and year using existing data that hunters are required to report as a condition of obtaining their HMS permit.

When asked about the future of his study curriculum, Nippon said: “We do not have the funding to do this work going forward. We have the capacity to do it but we need the funding to continue this work.”

A third study conducted by the URI Coastal Resource Center on behalf of the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council mapped responses from three hundred anglers in areas where they fished. This study is used to avoid conflicts early in the development process between fin fishermen and the aquaculture farm rental area.

The hope is that the study’s approach can be used offshore to explore potential conflicts between fishermen and offshore wind farm lease areas. The concern expressed by some workshop participants was that there would be enough private hunters and hunting trips to use the same somewhat random approach, i.e. have participants fill out questionnaires at hunting shows and access points. The study will also be able to show whether anglers are fishing more or less in the wind farm area over time and what species they are fishing for.

“We are also using the URI/CRMC study to show anglers new to fishing where hot sports enhance their fishing experience,” said Scott Travers, executive director of the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association, a partner in the study.

It is clear to me that there is no single study approach that will give us answers about who is fishing in wind farm areas and what they are fishing for. More importantly, the purpose of this URI initiative is how to change fishermen’s behaviors. Are fishermen taking more trips, taking fewer trips, or catching more fish or fewer fish because of building a wind farm while taking into account normal fluctuations in the stock and the climate impacts that cause the changes? I think there will probably be a combination of studies that will paint a picture of what happens to private recreational fishing in wind farm areas.

Thank you to the URI Graduate Center for Oceanography and Coastal Resources for this initiative and work on recreational fishing and the impacts of offshore wind farms. I have borne this very controversial charge with respect from all stakeholders. Details of the keynote lessons and discussions of the ensuing symposium will be posted on the URI Coastal Resource Center website once they have been processed. More to come on this initiative as it develops.


Striped bass regulation will be one fish measuring 28″ to <31".

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), which governs coastal striped bass regulations, approved the Second Addendum to Amendment 7 to the Interstate Fisheries Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass at its winter meeting on January 24, 2024.

See the full appendix at 65b27f9aPR02AtlStripedBassAddendumII_Approved.pdf (asmfc.org). The addition means a continuation of the maximum aperture limit from 28 inches to a maximum of 31 inches per fish bag/person/day like last year.

Most commentators at the meeting preferred the circumference option (28-31 inches in all modes). Commenters noted that this option is the most conservative option with the highest discretionary reduction, which is necessary to support inventory rebuilding.

In a post on their website, the American Society of Saltwater Guides said: “This option would better protect the Class of 2015, especially given the recent decline in recruitment and the lack of strong upcoming classes.” Most commenters noted specific and strong opposition to any split options the situation.

They noted that the entire entertainment sector should have the same regulations and be equally involved in rebuilding stock. They also noted that all recreational anglers should have the same opportunity to fish. Some comments expressed concern that even the most conservative options would have less than a 50 percent chance of rebuilding the stock.


Where is the sting?

Freshwater trout and salmon fishing is still good in stocked ponds. Angler For a complete list of trout ponds in Massachusetts, visit the Mass Wildlife at Trout Stocking Report | Mass.gov and in Rhode Island visit www.dem.ri.gov/fishing, or call 401-789-0281 or 401-539-0019 for more information about stocking trout.

Saltwater fishing was limited due to high winds and storms. However, anglers continue to catch the school’s striped bass. If you want to try your hand at cod fishing, call ahead to make a party boat reservation, and the ships will set sail as soon as the weather clears. Visit www.islandcurrent.com and www.francesfleet.com. Full-day rates for ships generally range from $130 to $135 per adult and around $80 for those under 12.

Dave Monte holds a captain’s license and a fishing license. He serves on a variety of boards and committees and has consulting work focused on clean oceans, habitat conservation, conservation, renewable energy, fisheries and client issues. Send fishing news and photos to dmontifish@verison.net or visit www.noflukefishing.com.

(Signs for translation) luck

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