New York’s Prized Sea Scallop Faces Off Against Offshore Wind

Bloomberg |Chris Martin and Jennifer A Dlouhy | May 23, 2019

Developers pushing to install massive wind turbines in the waters off New York and New Jersey have run into a delicate yet mighty foe: the Atlantic sea scallop.

Prized for their sweet and tender meat, scallops are abundant off Long Island and the Jersey Shore. That happens to be where the Trump administration wants to auction leases for offshore wind farms for what’s envisioned to be a $70 billion U.S. industry.

Efforts by fishermen to block the projects could have sweeping implications for both seafood lovers and the push to bring clean energy to the most densely populated corner of America. The area in the Atlantic, which could fit enough windmills to power all of New York City, is home to some of the world’s richest scallop beds. And erecting turbines nearly as tall as the Chrysler Building could make mollusks much harder to harvest.

“It’s an insane amount of ocean to occupy, and it will leave a trail of destruction,” said Bonnie Brady, executive director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association.

Where to Build Wind Farms

The U.S. has trailed Europe and Asia in developing offshore wind. But New York, New Jersey and other states are pushing to catch up, envisioning turbines at sea as a way to bring clean power to crowded coastal regions. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has already sold more than a dozen leases for sites from North Carolina to Massachusetts. Next year, it wants to auction more, including in areas encroaching on the prized scallop beds.

The federal government has already trimmed the size of the area. Slashing it more could raise development costs and threaten plans by New York and New Jersey to get 5.9 gigawatts of electricity from offshore wind by 2030.

“The U.S. is the biggest offshore wind opportunity outside of Europe,” Sunny Gupta, head of new market development at Orsted AS, the world’s largest offshore wind developer. “We’re not here just to build projects, we’re on track to build an efficient regional supply chain. Don’t do it small.”

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