In 2019, Ørsted U.S. acquired Deepwater Wind and was contracted along with Eversource to construct the South Fork wind farm by the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA). This will be New York State’s first offshore wind farm that will generate 130 MW of clean energy to power 70,000 homes. The farm is expected to consist of approximately 15 offshore turbines transmitting energy through an underground cable that will connect to the local grid in the Town of East Hampton.
While the underground cable, known as the South Fork Export Cable (SFEC), has the potential to supply a clean source of energy, the potential environmental impacts in the offshore environment are not well understood at this point. It is not only the physical disturbance and changes that result from the installation of the turbines and undersea cables, but also the potential from the electric and magnetic fields that may alter the behaviors of various marine species.
To assess the potential impact of the SFEC, a trawl survey monitoring plan has been developed by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County (CCE) and Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (SoMAS) on behalf of the East Hampton Trustees for the area concerning the South Fork Wind Energy Export Cable. Through recommendations by the East Hampton Town Trustees, and commercial and recreational fishing interests surrounding Orsted’s South Fork Export Cable (SFEC), this survey will be part of a larger project that will utilize different methods to monitor fish migrations and behaviors in the state waters of New York around the SFEC. The survey will be designed to capture pre-construction, construction, and post-construction data in an identified area around the export cable site, as well as nearby control area.
Utilizing a trawl survey design, CCE will gather data relative to migratory patterns of targeted commercial and recreationally valuable fish within the areas of the SFEC in East Hampton over a multi-year period. Data will be analyzed to identify if activity in and around the SFEC has had any effect on fish migrations or community structure using a Before-After-Control Impact design (BACI). Baseline data for the targeted fish species, both within a defined area of the SFEC and within a reference area, will take place over a 2-year period. Subsequent data collection via the trawl survey will continue during construction and burial of export cable in established survey areas, as well as post-construction within the survey areas. Data analysis will help determine the effects, if any, of the SFEC on the identified fish species and communities along the areas that are sampled from the trawl survey. Specifically, we test the following hypotheses:
H1: The spatial distributions of fish species will not be impacted by the construction and resulting EMFs of the SFEC connecting cable.
H2: The community structure of fish species will not be impacted by the construction and resulting EMF’s of the SFEC connecting cable.
The survey design is modeled after the Northeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program (NEAMAP) near-shore survey to ensure compatibility with this long term regional data set. We use the same net design, bridles, ground cables and doors as detailed in the NEAMAP design.
The survey takes place once per season, for a total of 20 trips over the 5-year study period. For more information on our findings thus far, please see the links in the sidebar.
If you would like more information about our project, please reach out to Alex Mercado (contact below).
Last updated June 28, 2023