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New underwater footage from around Block Island wind farm reveals thriving ecosystem

The American Wind Energy Association, a wind industry trade group, has released new underwater footage from around the Block Island Wind Farm.

The wind turbines act as an artificial reef, attracting a variety of marine life. The footage shows mussels growing on the structures that anchor the wind turbines and fish swimming around them.

The association is touting the area as a new habitat with benefits for recreational fishermen.

“I’ve caught recently a 35-inch bluefish and a 34-inch striped bass, and I’ve been catching a bunch of small black sea bass, as well as a couple of triggerfish as well, which is unique in that area,” Matthew Sullivan, a recreational fisherman from Rhode Island, said in the video.

However, commercial fishermen aren’t so lucky.

Greg Duckworth said since the construction of the wind farm, he’s been catching fewer fish with his gillnets and his income has gone down about 30 percent.

Meghan Lapp, fisheries liaison at Seafreeze Ltd., said commercial fishermen who use trawl nets are also having issues because they need about a half a mile of open space to drag their gear through the ocean.

“What you have to do is position the boat to where you can get the net where you want it,” Lapp said. “The net and the boat are not in the same spot, so when you have a situation like that, you can’t go between wind turbines.”

Aileen Kenney, vice president of permitting and environmental affairs at Deepwater Wind, said the company worked with commercial and recreational fishermen to place the Block Island Wind Farm in an area that historically has not served as a significant fishing ground.