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What About the Whales?

Does the left hand know what the right hand is doing? By Carol Frazier


Remember a couple of years ago when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) proposed draconian new speed rules for commercial and recreational vessels up and down the entire Atlantic Coast?  This rule attempted to extend to vessels between 35 and 65 feet in length, the existing requirement that vessels over 65 feet in length reduce their speed to 10 knots in what is called Seasonal Management Areas along the Atlantic Coast. Had this amendment to the rule been approved, it would have been incredibly harmful to commercial fishermen - it would have made their jobs infinitely more expensive and compliance would have been beyond burdensome. The rule was intended and designed to protect the North Atlantic Right Whale (NARW) from boat “strikes”.  The NARW is on the endangered species list and according to the NOAA, there are only about 350 in the world, of which fewer than 70 are reproductively active females.

 

NOAA received so much negative blow-back in its comments section that the extension of the rule was withdrawn and became a ‘“suggestion.” Keep that in mind later.

 

Fast forward to now, and we find that NOAA Fisheries has received a request from U. S. Wind, LLC, for a Letter of Authorization for Incidental Take Regulations (basically killing) members of several marine mammal groups over a period of five (5) years (2025-2029) during the construction of the wind farms off the coast of Maryland.  Although the request is for a “small number” of takes, the chart accompanying the request shows six (6) Harassments.  Since there are about a dozen planned offshore wind farms on the Atlantic Coast-each of which will have the authority to kill a similar number - (U.S. Wind is constructing three of them) you can multiply that by 12 for a potential of over 72 NARW takes or “kills” out of a population of 350 (or 20%).

 

So on the one hand a federal agency attempts to issue rules that are incredibly harmful to our fishing industry (both commercial and recreational) in an effort to “Save the Whales”  and then the same agency is considering granting permission to the offshore wind industry to kill about 20% of the remaining population.

 

Of course, both US Wind and Orsted have been claiming for years that OSW does not and will not cause harm to whales or any other sea life. Go figure.

 

Since NOAA abandoned the extension of its rule regarding speed after the comment period it might be a good idea to file a comment regarding the incidental taking (killing) of the NARW. You can read all about it and comment at www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/incidental-take-auhorization-us-wind-inc.


Comments close 02/05/24.

 

Another interesting tidbit I found in my research is a study by Heriot-Watt University in Scotland.  The researchers studied crab behavior near the St. Abbs Marine Station offshore wind farm and found that the high level of electromagnetism coming from the subsea cables delivering power from the turbines is affecting the blood cells of crabs which makes them susceptible to bacterial infections.  The crabs “freeze” when they come close to electromagnetic fields generated by the cables. This disturbing behavior may also affect the creature’s migration habits. Another study by the university showed that the electromagnetic cables also negatively affect lobster and lobster larvae. (Heriot-Watt University studies published in 2021 and 2022).

 

Think about the impact the wind farms on the Chesapeake Bay (our Governor’s dream) will have on the Maryland crab industry.

 

Once again, I’m just trying to get information to the taxpayers so they can understand what the future may hold.



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