COOS BAY, Ore. – Fishermen along Oregon’s coast traveled great distances to get to Coos Bay Tuesday.
They’re hoping to bring awareness to their beloved industry in the face of coming offshore wind farms.
Fishermen and seafood processors are taking to the streets in support of the slogan, “Protect U.S. Fishermen.”
The seafood community was joined by their families and supporters to rally at the Coos Bay Boardwalk ahead of a march down Front St. to the Coos Museum.
This is to celebrate the seafood industry and bring awareness to plans for offshore wind farming.
“A lot of these wind farms that are coming in are right in the middle of prime commercial fishing grounds,” says Justin Johnson, a Newport fisherman.
Executive Director of West Coast Seafood Processors Lori Steele says she wants wind energy done carefully and in partnership with the fishing industry.
“We need a seat at the table in order to minimize the impacts. We’re very concerned that the call areas were picked without a lot of input from the industry.”
Impacts on the fishing industry as well as ocean ecosystems are things Heather Mann, Executive Director of Midwater Trawlers Cooperative Newport, says the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has not researched enough to choose the current call areas.
“They’re inside 1,300 meters, and we had asked them to do something outside of 1,300 meters, so we’re not thrilled about it. The whole hope with this event today, the rally and then the barbeque, is just to celebrate the seafood industry, everything that we bring to Oregon. It’s thousands of jobs. It’s millions of dollars.”
“They’re way too big, and they’re way too devastating to the fisheries that we have going on on the coast. And it’s going to be pretty detrimental to a lot of the families trying to make a living on the ocean,” says Captain Mike Retherford.
“We’re a family. We’re not a boat, and we’re not just an industry,” adds Kelly Retherford.
Captain Retherford brought his family from Newport in a show of solidarity.
“To be overlooked in place of wind energy, without the proper steps being taken, I think is absolutely wrong, and our voices need to be heard. There’s people, there’s Oregonians, there’s fishermen, there’s families, and there’s communities that are together on this, and we want to be known.”
The call areas consist of hundreds of square miles of ocean and will be home to floating wind turbines once leases to the areas are auctioned off.
They’re located off Coos Bay and Brookings, both 13.8 miles offshore.
BOEM is accepting public comment on the call areas through their website until Tuesday, June 28, 2022.
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