Editor’s Log: Conservation In The Wind - The Fisherman

Editor’s Log: Conservation In The Wind

Somehow, whenever I find myself in an organic conversation with another striper fisherman, which is often, we find ourselves talking about the state of the striper stocks. The conversation then takes a lap through all of the things that might explain the meager spawning results we’ve seen in recent years. I recently found myself in one of these conversations and as we passed the ball back and forth, we touched on all of the big markers: runoff, fertilizer, lack of snowmelt, pollution, Roundup, the possibility that the stock was mismanaged…aliens (it is 2023)…all the hits. This person then launched into a big thing about how people and industries need to be held accountable for their impact on the environment. Talking like he knew more than the average person about ‘backroom deals’ and payoffs to the government to allow this company to dump that and another company to continue using an illegal chemical for a well-placed campaign contribution.

When people start getting hyper-political I tend to glaze over, because I’m sick of it all. There’s a lot in what he said that I agree with, I’d even say most of it. I don’t doubt that backroom deals like these are made, but I do doubt that some auto mechanic from Plimpton, MA has inside info on them; I’d say the same about the Podcast hosts he trusts the most. But the really funny thing about this exchange was that, at the end of his environmental diatribe, he crushed his cigarette on the ground and then kicked it under the nearest bush. What was that he said about people being held responsible for their impacts on the environment?

This is how I feel about all this talk about offshore wind. At first, I was totally in favor of this concept. It sounded really good, the buzzword ‘green energy’ with its promise to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, it all sounds so wholesome. And I’m embarrassed to admit that I took the bait on this and that stems largely from the fact that it was going to be far enough away from where I live and fish that I wouldn’t even know they were there.

We have community, state and national leaders driving these buzzwords, concepts and ideals deeper and deeper into our minds, many of them the same people that have stood up for all kinds of environmental causes and have halted other intrusive projects like the Alaska Pipeline. We have speed restrictions in place for vessels over 65 feet; many party boats fit into this category, because they might strike a right whale. And yet, after at least 69 unexplained whale deaths since December and untold numbers of dead dolphins in that same time period, which just happened to coincide with use of seismic blasting to find suitable bottom for turbine installation, these leaders are all silent in solidarity. It really makes it easy to see where the ‘green’ in green energy comes from.

I’m really not trying to make a political statement here. I’m writing this based solely on what I feel is a place of common sense. Do we need to move away from our fossil fuel reliance? Yes, it’s slowly killing the planet. But we can’t just ignore the damage that just these preliminary stages alone are doing and we can’t just blindly allow the industrialization of the ocean because we have no idea what the ramifications of that will be. As these projects continue and more of them begin, we’re only going to see more death washing up on our shores and that can serve as the visible shadow of the destruction taking place offshore.

And if I may allow emotion to leech into this for just a second or two. The ocean is the last true wilderness on Earth. It is a place that – save for a few blinking lights – looks exactly as it did 100, 1,000 or 100,000 years ago, that’s something worth preserving. And when you look at all the damage that’s already being done and digest the fact that these turbines ALL HAVE TO BE TAKEN DOWN AFTER 25 YEARS OF USE, yes that’s a fact, it just seems like a brainless endeavor. When your solution to a problem creates many more problems, it’s no longer a solution. And if you think talking a good environmental game and then flicking a cigarette butt into the bushes is a bad look, imagine advocating for green energy, seeing a correlating spike in unexplained whale deaths (the whale is basically the unofficial mascot for ocean advocacy) and flippantly shrugging it off without a second thought or consideration? Man, that looks really bad.

And we haven’t even talked about the potential impacts on fishing…

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