California Commercial Fishermen Sue to Halt Wind Farming Ocean Survey

Image: Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen’s Organization.

California’s San Luis Obispo Superior Court is expected to issue a decision today, May 15, regarding whether to halt approval of permits for ocean site surveys for offshore wind development.

Litigation to stop approval of permits for site surveys was filed Feb. 29 by the Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen’s Organization (MBCFO) and Port San Luis Commercial Fishermen’s Association (PSLCFA).

Defendants include the California Coastal Commission, the State Lands Commission, three offshore wind development firms and the environmental consulting company CSA Ocean Sciences.

The wind development firms are seeking the permits in order to provide power for several million customers in California. CSA Ocean Sciences, based in Stuart, Florida, said May 15 that it had no comment prior to the court’s decision.

The three companies that hold leases to potentially develop floating wind turbines in the Morro Bay wind energy area offshore of Cambria and San Simoen are Atlas Wind, Golden State Wind and Even Keel Wind.

The two commercial fisheries entities have expressed concern that the surveys will harm marine life and disrupt their fisheries. Protections for the commercial fishing industry are mandated by the California Coastal Act and the state’s constitution.

In its filing, MBCFO President Tom Hafer said they were taking this step “for the illegal conduct of damaging site surveys without publicly adopted protocols for monitoring and mitigation.”

“We had no choice but to initiate litigation to protect the public trust values of the California Coast and the survival of the commercial fishing industry,” he said.

The plaintiffs are seeking to block permits to the development until actual impact of the site survey is determined.