The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has classified some areas off the coast of Oregon for floating offshore wind energy development. The Pacific Fishery Management Council has joined the growing chorus of voices calling for BOEM to revoke these designations.
The council also that BOEM begin the siting process again with the use of a spatial mapping technology designed to locate deconflicted locations ideal for wind energy development.
BOEM has been utilizing the mapping technology to solely assess the call locations identified last year, rather of using it to consider acceptable regions throughout the whole Oregon Coast.
Several organisations and individuals have spoken in favor of expanding the use of the mapping technology, including those in the fishing sector, environmental organizations, indigenous communities, and council advisory committees. It was also proposed to copy Oregon Governor Tina Kotek on the letter.
“The Council’s action sends a strong signal to BOEM that fisheries leaders do not want to risk losing our productive fisheries, the scientific surveys on which our fisheries management depends, or the health of our ocean ecosystems due to offshore wind,”
WCSPA Deputy Director and Co-Chair of the Council’s Marine Planning Committee Susan Chambers said. “The California Current is one of the most productive ecosystems in the world. We need to get this right.”
Seven council advisory organizations have issued lengthy comments expressing dissatisfaction with the existing procedure, with some groups even suggesting that the current Oregon call areas be scrapped altogether.
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Several organizations and enterprises, including the environmental group Oceana, as well as individual fishing firms and fishing trade groups, provided oral public feedback that bolstered the remarks made to the advisory committee.
“We hear the climate crisis is so severe that collateral damage to birds, whales, the California current ecosystem, food security, even to fisheries, fishermen and rural community economies is an accepted part of the transition to cleaner energy,”
Midwater Trawlers Cooperative Executive Director Heather Mann and one of the leaders of the informal coalition Protect US Fishermen said in her testimony, “That is an unacceptable premise to me, and I hope it is to you as well.”
The resolution was approved 10-0 at a recent meeting with four abstentions from the representatives of the states of Oregon, Washington, California, and the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Here is a tweet Related to this news-
The Pacific Fishery Management Council has joined a chorus of voices recommending the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) rescind the current Oregon call areas designated for floating offshore wind energy development. https://t.co/qUyBEWhQ11
— The World (@TheWorldLink) March 25, 2023
Councilman and tribal representative Joe Oatman raised concerns about the absence of government-to-government communication with tribes that have been raised before.
“Tribal concerns are not being given the due consideration that they deserve,” Oatman said. “Many potential impacts on the California current ecosystem and the aquatic resources on which they depend have not been adequately identified or addressed by BOEM.
We are very concerned that the cumulative impact of wave energy areas in California, Oregon and Washington and their individual environmental assessments will be inadequate to protect treaty fishing rights.”
The motion was made by Oregon state representative Christa Svensson, who said, “I’ve made this motion to retract the existing call areas in favor of a whole Oregon coastal study using the NCCOS spatial mapping technology.”
She noted that rescinding the current areas and starting again would, “signal to key stakeholders that BOEM is sincere in their goal to identify areas of development that have the least conflict.”
BOEM representative Lisa Gilbane noted on the record “I want to remind the Council that BOEM’s charge is not to avoid fishing conflicts in Oregon.”