Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind LLC, a 50/50 partnership between Shell New Energies US LLC and EDF Renewables North America, and Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey, have launched a multi-phase modeling study in collaboration with the surfclam industry. 

The goal of the study is to better understand how Mid-Atlantic wind farm developments that are anticipated over the next 30 years, along with climate change, may influence the distribution and abundance of surfclams. The study will also examine the economics of the Surfclam Fishery within the Atlantic Shores lease area and the greater Mid-Atlantic Bight.

This study builds off Rutgers’ existing Spatially explicit, Ecological, agent-based Fisheries and Economic Simulator (SEFES). Developed in partnership with the surfclam industry and fisheries managers, including the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), SEFES simulates the surfclam fishery in the Mid-Atlantic Bight. The simulator models the surfclam stock biology along with fishery captain and fleet behavior, federal management decisions, fishery economics, port structure and now, wind farm development.

The model is currently used to address these interactions using present day conditions. However, over the course of the lifetime of planned wind energy installations, projected changes in ocean conditions may lead to changes in surfclam stock distribution that could alter these interactions.

The partnership with Atlantic Shores will increase SEFES’ capabilities to assess fisheries and wind development activities from present day to 30 years in the future. The model will not only be able to look at changing conditions across the Mid-Atlantic Bight, but it will also be used to run scenarios that factor in the presence of Atlantic Shores’ proposed portfolio of projects within its lease area. Atlantic Shores’ goal is to better understand the changes in surfclam habitat and abundance within its lease area and more accurately understand and mitigate any potential effects on the surfclam industry from the construction and operation of Atlantic Shores’ future proposed projects.

“We are proud to continue building on our valuable partnership with Rutgers University as well as our collaboration with the commercial fishing industry,” says Jennifer Daniels, development director at Atlantic Shores. “We appreciate the willingness of the surfclam industry to actively participate with us in this effort. This study is the latest in our continued commitment to lead with science by making our lease area available to researchers and mariners alike. It’s through the application of tools like this simulator that we can responsibly develop and deliver renewable energy for New Jersey communities with minimized effects on the fishing industry.”

Photo: Jennifer Daniels

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