New York State Department of State (NYSDOS) is amending its Coastal Management Program (CMP), under the authority of the federal Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) of 1972, to appropriately site offshore wind energy facilities and provide greater protection of ocean habitats.
Under the CZMA, states with approved Coastal Management Programs have the authority to approve or deny a proposed federal action no matter where it may occur, if the action may affect that state’s coastal resources. To better address issues associated with offshore wind development and critical habitat protection as it makes decisions on federal actions, NYSDOS will develop criteria for siting offshore wind facilities and for protecting critical ocean habitat.
Specifically, to protect fisheries within the New York Offshore Planning Area there is a need for more and better information concerning fisheries resources and habitats as well as the potential impacts of construction, operation of wind turbines, undersea cables, and other offshore wind energy infrastructure.
Offshore wind energy development may impact fishermen’s livelihoods and fishing communities by reduced access to key fishing grounds, reduced catches, gear loss or damage. To avoid these potential impacts Cornell Cooperative Extension Marine Program (CCE) was asked by NYSDOS to collect information from New York Commercial Fishermen and For-Hire boatmen to identify key fishing areas within the New York offshore planning area. The information that was collected included sites being fished, factual descriptions of locations (including latitude/longitude), common names (ex. fish hole), gear type being used, species being targeted and other information that could be important to mitigate the impacts of wind energy development on fishermen. CCE completed fifteen work sessions for this project with Commercial fishermen and For-Hire boatmen from Brooklyn to Montauk. The workshop sessions involved fishermen providing information about their fishing activities as described above and detailing specific fishing sites on nautical charts. Qualitative data for this project was collected from 90 commercial fishermen and for-hire boatmen vessel operators, which represents 36% of the combined active fleet presently operating in the New York Ocean Offshore Planning Area. Related to the fishermen’s input, quantitative fisheries dependent monitoring data was obtained from NMFS by NYSDOS. Commercial and For-Hire fisheries usage GIS data layers and maps were created for NY ocean usage through the use of compiled vessel trip report (VTR) data for all gear types by fishing effort (number of tows) and landings (total catch) within the New York offshore planning area for 2001-2010. Draft GIS layered maps from both processes were presented to fishermen for review and revisions prior to submission to NYSDOS. All individual fisherman information was kept confidential and only aggregate data in GIS layered maps are public information.
Last updated February 5, 2015