Fishing Groups Stumble in Protest of Wind Farm

A map of the area Statoil Wind hopes to lease.

WASHINGTON (CN) – Opposition by squid and scallop fishing businesses to plans for a wind farm off the Atlantic Coast fell flat Wednesday when a federal judge denied them an injunction.

Since the lease of waters off the coast of New York has not yet been executed, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan said the three cities and nine fishing organizations and businesses that brought the lawsuit failed to demonstrate imminent harm.

Led by the Fisheries Survival Fund, the coalition contends that the wind farm will prevent fishing in commercially valuable waters, and could pose safety hazards to fishers and ships navigating in the 127 square miles designated for the wind farm.

They also argued that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s plan to lease the waters to Statoil Wind US LLC could interfere with their enjoyment of the marine habitat.

But Chutkan noted that development of the $42 million wind farm is still years away.

“The three articulated injuries would result only from the construction and operation of a wind energy facility, but any construction of such a facility is years in the future and subject to further government approval,” the 9-page ruling states.

Chutkan also noted that the lease will not deny fishing access to the three cities that joined the lawsuit – Barnegat Light, New Jersey; Narragansett, Rhode Island; and New Bedford, Massachusetts.

The other groups that participated in the lawsuit – none of which will lose their fishing access either, according to the ruling – are the Town Dock, SeaFreeze Shoreside, SeaFresh USA, Rhose Island 2 Fisherman’s Alliance, Garden State Seafood Associations, Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, the Fisherman’s Dock Co-Operative of Point Pleasant and the Narragansett Chamber of Commerce.

These groups and cities argued that Statoil is more likely to prevail if they bide their time until they face imminent harm because by then Statoil will have made “significant financial investment” in the project. The company was declared the provisional winner of the lease in December 2016.

Countering that, Chutkan pointed out that the project may never come to life if Statoil’s proposal for the wind farm is rejected.

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