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Saltwater Fishing’s New Hotspots? | Outdoor Life

Last December, the nation’s first offshore wind farm went online. Located 4 miles off Block Island, R.I., these five turbines are undoubtedly a harbinger of things to come in terms of renewable-energy resources. But perhaps even more intriguing is their future as fishing hotspots. That windmills can generate electricity is fact. That they can act as FADs (Fish Aggregating Devices) is somewhat open to conjecture, but optimism abounds.

Up and down the East Coast, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has designated Wind Energy Areas. Some are just in the planning stage, other areas have been leased. Off the coast of Long Island, N.Y., for example, there are three current proposals for wind-farm construction on a much larger scale than the one off Block. In January, the Long Island Power Authority approved developer Deepwater Wind’s plan to build 15 such turbines between Long Island and Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. Even more are planned off the South Shore of Long Island.

There are environmental and economic trade-offs to offshore wind energy, but what does such potential large-scale windfarm construction mean specifically for anglers?

Most of us think structure right off the bat. Adding hard substrate in just about any environment generates fishing opportunities. The many state-run but angler-funded artificial-reef programs illustrate this well. More relatable are the oil platforms off the Louisiana coast, which have contributed significantly to fishing in that region. “If anything close to that happens here, we will see some pretty interesting results,” says Saltwater Sportsman conservation editor Rip Cunningham.

Structure aggregates sportfish, and existing marine research makes clear that it increases species diversity, biomass, and general biological productivity.

Wind farms in excess of 100 turbines have been in operation in the English Channel and North Sea for the better part of two decades. Researchers for a 2006…

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