Anglers' support for an offshore wind farm: Fishing effects or clean energy symbolism

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Rapid expansion of offshore wind energy will have impacts on existing users of marine space, including recreational angling. Because angling has significant economic and cultural significance in ocean and coastal areas, and managers increasingly employ new approaches to manage conflicts between fishing and other uses, it is critical to understand the perspectives of this interest group regarding development of offshore wind energy. Using a mixed-methods approach, this study examines the attitudes of anglers towards the Block Island Wind Farm, the first offshore wind energy development constructed in the United States. Supported by qualitative interviews, a quantitative survey of 199 anglers from Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts reveals moderate support for the wind farm. Experience fishing at the wind farm is associated with more positive beliefs regarding the development's effects on catch-related aspects of fishing; however, beliefs about catch-related effects are not as strong predictors of support as non-catch factors (specifically, visual impacts). Moreover, belief that the wind farm is “symbolic of progress towards clean energy” has the greatest total impact on support and effects of the wind farm, indicating that underlying values and ideologies may have greater influence on angler's attitudes towards offshore wind projects than effects on the fishing experience. Greater research is needed to understand how general characteristics of anglers affect their attitudes towards offshore renewable energy and other marine governance decisions. Managers must also facilitate greater participation of anglers in offshore wind energy decision-making.

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Marine Policy