Optimistic with reservations: The impacts of the United States’ first offshore wind farm on the recreational fishing experience

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The expansion of offshore wind farms (OWF) has given rise to increased concerns about potential use conflicts with ocean and coastal users and attempts to mitigate these conflicts through marine spatial planning. Whereas scholars and managers often focus on the impacts of OWF on commercial fishing, members of the public also raise concerns about impacts on recreational fishing. Despite these concerns, relatively few empirical studies have been conducted to assess the impact of OWFs on recreational anglers. This study fills this gap. We conducted a mixed-methods study, comprising interviews and a survey, to assess the impacts of the United States’ first OWF on recreational anglers’ experiences. Interview findings revealed anglers’ enjoyment of the OWF as an enhanced fishing location, due to catch and non-related aspects of the experience. Anglers also reported concerns about increased crowding around the OWF and raised concerns about potential fishing access restrictions around this and future projects. Survey data confirms that anglers, particularly those who fished at the wind farm, believe the wind farm has benefitted fishing. Respondents also value the wind farm as symbolic of progress towards green energy. Overall, results suggest that wind farms do not necessarily conflict with angling; to the contrary, our research shows that this OWF is viewed as an enhanced fishing destination. Results underscore the importance of understanding angler behavior and experiences in managing conflicts with OWF and other ocean uses. Recommendations include conducting social science research to enhance understanding of ocean users, managing issues like crowding and access, and considering the benefits of nearshore OWFs for anglers and other stakeholders.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Marine Policy