OCEAN PINES, Md. – Thursday night in Worcester County, officials from U.S. Wind were on hand to help calm any concerns locals have about the 328 foot meteorological tower that will installed off the coast of Ocean City.
The tower will be put in place in July but locals the main concern is what impact it will have on marine life.
“My biggest worry is what it’s going to do to our fishing population,” says Heather Bahrami, who works in the fishing industry and lives in West Ocean City.
Locals tell 47 ABC they’re concerned about the meteorological tower, that will be installed about 17 miles off the coast of Ocean City at the end of July, because it is a prime time of the year for the resort town.
“I worry that stuff like our White Marlin Open, that brings 350 plus boats in a tournament, could be affected. And if something like that is affected it affects our town and our community greatly,” says Bahrami.
U.S. Wind officials don’t deny it will have an impact on marine life. But they tell 47 ABC that they are required by law to do it the summer months because that’s when it will have least amount of impact.
“This is the time of year where you reduce the potential impact during the installation to marine mammals,” says Salvo Vitale, with U.S. Wind.
Despite that locals are still hesitant. “They don’t anticipate it but they don’t know. And there’s really no fall back and say this does scare off the fish whether it be for a week or year or longer,” says Bahrami.
While some remain skeptical, including local elected officials, others have to admit there are some positives.
“Going in, the noise and the construction is definitely not going to be good. But any structure in the ocean is a good thing. If someone can take their boat out there and catch sea bass out there now and before they couldn’t it’s better for them,” says Jeremy Blunt, the owner of Ocean City’s charter boat Wrecker Sport Fishing.
Locals tell 47 ABC one thing is clear: the tower, which is the start of a potential wind farm, is going to be built. So all they can do is stay educated and informed.
“Right now I guess the only thing we can do is just to monitor how it affects us and speak up when the next chance we get to speak up,” says Bahrami.
As discussions continue, Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan suggested that U.S. Wind actually host a meeting in Ocean City instead of in Ocean Pines since that’s the area that will be impacted most and a meeting has not yet been held there.
Currently, U.S. Wind plans to begin installation of the tower on July 22nd and have it complete before the White Marlin Open that starts on August 5th. The tower will collect data to back up predictions about how much energy the future wind turbines will create.
As of now, the company says it plans to install 32 total turbines for phase one of the project.
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