Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind and Rutgers University launched a multi-phase modeling study in collaboration with the surfclam industry to better understand how Mid-Atlantic wind farm developments and 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 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 (approximately 30 years), projected changes in ocean conditions may lead to changes in surfclam stock distribution that could alter these interactions.

“We are looking forward to having our model take this next step towards ‘future casting,’” said Daphne Munroe, the study’s Principal Investigator and associate professor of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. “The strength of our modeling approach lies in the information and advice we are generously provided by advisors, in particular the New Jersey Surfclam Fleet, who have a deep working knowledge of the systems we are trying to simulate.”

The partnership with Atlantic Shores will increase SEFES’ capabilities to assess fisheries and wind development activities from today to 30 years in the future. The model 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. We appreciate the willingness of the surfclam industry to actively participate with us in this effort,” said Jennifer Daniels, development director at Atlantic Shores. “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 our Lease Area and deliver renewable energy for New Jersey communities with minimized effects on the fishing industry.”

News item from Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind


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