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Offshore wind plans draw fishermen’s ire

Local fishing industry representatives on Wednesday voiced their opposition to plans for an offshore wind farm off the northern coastline, saying the project’s site overlaps with a fishing zone.

Proposed by Equis Energy Taiwan, a subsidiary of the Singapore-based Equis Private Ltd, the power plant is to be located in the sea off New Taipei City’s Tamsui (淡水) and Sanjhih (三芝) districts.

The zone is one of the 36 locations that the Ministry of Economic Affairs identified as suitable for offshore wind-turbine construction in 2015.

However, fishermen attending the town hall meeting that Equis Energy called in a Tamsui-area community center opposed the plan, saying the proposed site for the wind farm is within an important area for fishing.

The area has already been encroached on by other interests, including a freight harbor supplying a coal-fired power plant in Linkou District (林口) and the Port of Taipei in Tamsui, Fishermen’s Association secretary-general Wu Yung-kuan (吳永寬) said.

The sea off Sanjhih is one of the last fisheries left to local fishermen and the construction of the Equis wind farm could put more than 1,300 sampan-style fishing boats out of business, Wu said.

As sampan-type vessels lack the range to operate further from the coastline, building turbines in the area will economically ruin the families that work with these boats, Wu said.

“We get that ‘green’ energy is good, but if we fishermen lose our core fisheries, we lose our livelihoods,” Wu said.

Equis Energy representatives said the corporation is in the process of drafting an environmental impact study and will broadly consult the opinions of all parties.

Equis fully intends to comply with the laws and regulations regarding rightful compensation to fishermen, they said.

After the meeting, Equis Energy representative Hu Ken-ti (胡根地) said offshore wind farms are important to the nation’s industrial and energy-supply transition, adding that success would require time and public support.

The area designated for offshore wind farm construction, which is between 1km and 4km off the coast of Sanjhih, has a surface area of 54.6km2 and its depth varies from 40m to 80m, the company said.

The facility’s power cable to the distribution substation in Shalun Village (沙崙) is to have an undersea length of 4km and an overland length of 1.4km, Hu said.