The Fisheries Survival Fund (FSF) is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction to delay the 15 December sale of the New York offshore wind farm lease area.
The filing by the FSF, which represents the majority of the limited access Atlantic scallop fleet, alleges that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) leasing process did not adequately consider the impact of wind power development on the region’s fishermen.
It said the wind farm lease area is on “vital, documented scallop and squid fishing grounds, which serves as essential fish habitat and grounds for other commercially important species, including black sea bass and summer flounder”.
The plaintiffs also claim threatened loggerhead sea turtles and critically endangered North Atlantic right whales use the area for foraging.
The lawsuit argues that fishermen’s concerns regarding the location of the lease area received “virtually no attention or analysis” from government officials ahead of the lease sale, despite fishing stakeholders repeatedly making their concerns known.
It further states that BOEM failed to identify the proposed wind farm’s environmental, economic, social and cultural impacts, and failed to “consider alternative sites in an open, collaborative, public forum”.
Several members of the National Coalition for Fishing Communities have joined the lawsuit, which was filed against Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, BOEM, and BOEM director Abigail Hopper.
Other organizations joining the lawsuit include: the Garden State Seafood Association and the Fishermen’s Dock Co-Operative in New Jersey; the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association in New York; and the Narragansett Chamber of Commerce and Rhode Island Fishermen’s Alliance in Rhode Island.
Image: Long Island coast (Wikimedia Commons)