California Judge Denies Injunction Relief in Wind Farming Ocean Survey

California Judge Denies Injunction Relief in Wind Farming Ocean Survey
Image: Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen’s Organization.

California’s San Luis Obispo Superior Court on May 15 denied a request from commercial fishing entities for injunction relief in approving permits for ocean site surveys for offshore wind development.  The litigation to stop approval of permits for site surveys was filed Feb. 29 by the Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen’s Organization (MBCFO) and Port San Luis Commercial Fishermen’s Association (PSLCFA).

Defendants included the California Coastal Commission, the State Lands Commission, three offshore wind development firms and the environmental consulting company CSA Ocean Sciences.

The three companies who hold leases to potentially develop floating wind turbines in the Morro Bay wind energy area offshore of Cambria and San Simoen are Atlas Wind, Golden State Wind and Even Keel Wind.

None were accessible for comment immediately after the court’s decision.

Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen’s Organization President Tom Hafer said his organization would appeal the San Luis Obispo Superior Court decision in the Ventura Superior Court.

Meanwhile, he said, as these site surveys in the ocean continue, bottom fishing has dropped off 70% for black cod and other groundfish.

Hafer said the fishermen are concerned because there is no protocol in place, as required, for monitoring or a mitigation plan for potential adverse impacts of the ocean site surveys or the planned wind sites to be established by the three firms.

Protections for the commercial fishing industry are mandated by the California Coastal Act and the state’s constitution.

In its initial filing, the MBCFO said it had no choice but to initiate litigation to protect the public trust values of the California Coast and the survival of the commercial fishing industry. Plaintiffs are seeking to block permits to the development until actual impact of the site survey is determined.

The conservation entity Oceana has not taken a stand specifically in this litigation, but did ask the California Coastal Commission as far back as March 31, 2022, to carefully consider the effects of offshore wind lease exploration activities, as well as effects of construction operations.

Oceana noted that climate change was already altering ocean ecosystems.

The site assessment activities associated with the lease sales, as well as any offshore wind energy construction and operations that may follow, have the potential to adversely affect marine resources, commercial and recreational fishing, environmental justice communities and tribal and cultural resources, Oceana said.



Boat Lyfe