An independent government agency that focuses on the conservation and protection of marine mammals said no evidence was found linking wind farm development to the recent string of dead whales that have washed ashore.
So far this winter, 16 whales have washed up dead along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in locations including Long Island, New York, Assateague Island, Maryland, and Virginia Beach in Virginia.
The deaths are part of what the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) refers to as the Humpback Whale Unusual Mortality Event (UME), which began in 2016.
In a statement posted to its website Tuesday, the Marine Mammal Commission said that 40% of the whales examined by necropsy showed evidence that they either were entangled in fishing gear or were struck by a ship.
Commission: Strandings are nothing new, not just on the East coast
The commissioner said at least ten humpback whales are stranded yearly during the UME, although the most substantial number stranded was 34 in 2017.
Scientists have found that the amount of humpback whales seen in the Gulf of Maine is growing while younger whales are moving south to the Atlantic coast, where they are defenseless against ship strikes.
However, many say wind farm development is the cause of so many whale beachings.
Development of wind farm research and development is occurring up and down the Atlantic coast in places like Montauk, New York; 20 miles offshore in Virginia Beach, Virginia; Block Island, Rhode Island; and Ocean City, Maryland.
Agencies, including the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), say there isn’t a link between whale strandings and wind farms.
An additional independent agency agrees, saying, “Despite several reports in the media, there is no evidence to link these strandings to offshore wind energy development,” said the Marine Mammal Commission.
According to Independent Women’s Forum Senior Fellow and District of Conversation Podcast Host, Gabriella Hoffman doesn’t believe that wind farms have nothing to do with the whale strandings.
“The Biden administration is sowing distrust with the American public by instantly dismissing concerns that offshore wind development could be behind the whale deaths,” said Hoffman. “Calling it misinformation or downplaying the concern is why people don’t trust them on the conservation front. Even NOAA fisheries spox Ben Laws told the Chesapeake Bay Magazine that offshore wind could constitute Level A and Level B harassment.”
Additionally, Hoffman said NOAA admitted that increased vessel traffic because of ongoing wind farm construction might lead to other clashes between boats and whales.
“The dismissiveness coming from the top brass at NOAA Fisheries, BOEM, and the now Marine Mammal Commission leads many, myself included, to believe they don’t have the whale’s interests in mind,” said Hoffman. “A simple investigation by neutral parties is needed. And should it reveal offshore wind is contributing to their demise, the White House should reconsider their goal of achieving 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030.”