PFMC: Offshore Wind Energy Development May Not be Compatible With Fisheries

The Pacific Fisheries Management Council (PFMC), in a letter to Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek, has raised concerns about potential adverse impacts to fisheries from offshore wind (OSW) energy in ocean waters off the state’s coast.

In an April 6 letter, the PFMC suggested to Kotek that the state rescind the Coos Bay and Brookings call areas, and that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) not proceed with Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) at this time.

The council said it’s not opposed to development of offshore wind energy, but seeks a development process that considers multiple ocean uses, and sites OSW energy facilities to be compatible with multiple uses.

The council urged the BOEM to restart the process of identifying call areas off Oregon by considering all areas greater than 12 miles offshore, including areas deeper than 1,300 meters (4,265 feet), and after restarting the process, to use spatial planning tools to help minimize OSW development impacts to fisheries and ecosystem resources.

The council favors excluding from further consideration all offshore banks and seamounts and requiring an adequate buffer zone surrounding them, as determined by the collaborative effort of the council, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Marine Fisheries Service and National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science.

“A more deliberative process for identifying potential OSW areas will certainly result in an outcome that provides a better balance of ocean uses and minimizes impacts to fisheries and coastal communities,” the council said.