Fishermen see ocean energy plans as a threat

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[Commercial fishing and charter boats are a major economic engine at the shore and owners are concerned about the impact of plans for ocean-based energy production. PHOTO BY RYAN WELSH]

POINT PLEASANT BEACH — It seems everyone wants a piece of the ocean for energy generation — whether it be fossil fuels or clean energy.

But there is one group that has historically used the ocean to power their own lives.

“There is no win for us here if either of these plans go through, it’s not good if it’s windmills or oil wells, it’s not good for the fishing industry,” said Jim Lovgren, director of the Fisherman’s Dock Cooperative on Channel Drive.

More and more, Mr. Lovgren is seeing his fishing grounds become a battleground for the energy revolution, as propositions to build windmills and drill for oil and natural gas in the ocean make their way through federal and state agencies.

When fishermen started immigrating to the U.S., Mr. Lovgren, whose grandfather was a lifelong fisherman who came to New Jersey from Sweden after the first World War, said they lacked one thing that other immigrants took for granted.

“When people immigrated here to this country, they had the ability to buy land and that was their land,” Mr. Lovgren said.

“There were fishermen that came here, too, or they became fishermen once they were here, but they were never able to buy the water that those fish were in.”

The area along what is known as the New York Bight has been slated for offshore wind farms.

Last year the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management [BOEM] granted a lease for 79,000 acres of sea off the coast of New Jersey and Long Island.

According to the lease agreement, the project will seek to “generate energy using wind turbine generators.”

For more on this story, read The Ocean Star—on newsstands Friday or online in our e-Edition.