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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Tuesday, June 08, 2021: For me, there’s no hiding from all I have to do. I try to procrastinate but ...

Below: Some of my pics from the Sunday's comely thunderboomer. 

Below: "We use absolutely no steroids on our farm."

Tuesday, June 08, 2021: For me, there’s no hiding from all I have to do. I try to procrastinate but a truly bizarre thing has transpired. After a lifetime of perfecting procrastination, I have reached the point where I actually put off procrastinating, thusly I find myself doing things on time – and quickly. It’s the ultimate in perfected procrastination. I don’t think I like it but it might be too late for me to go through the whole worsening procrastination routine. I’m well passed my “Use By” date.

I still plan on getting this blog to increase its frequency. Since I can’t put it off, I simply need to find a starting point. If you’re among the certain few who follow this blog, I’ll keep you posted via Facebook, Twitter and (I think) LinkedIn.

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I’m issuing this local motoring alert about bicyclists a bit early this year. It’s mainly due to yet another case of my coming that close to being in a wreck. This time, I would have been side-impacted by an older gal in a gray sedan who was forced to swerve into my left-hand Boulevard lane to avoid a numbnuts road bicyclist who had inexplicably swerved onto her righthand lane. There wasn’t another biker near him!

It should be duly noted he was one of those spandex road bike type pedalers who foregoes riding on the nicely appointed bike lane and instead hawks the white line, slapping distance from passing vehicles, many of whom would love to slap him.  

I’m a bicyclist myself, so I know of what I speak when I say there wasn’t a reason in the world for this guy to suddenly swerve into the lane of traffic – short of purposely trying to cause a wreck, evidenced by how he just as quickly and adroitly zipped back into the bike lane to avoid be impacted himself. Now that I further think about it, his move did look intentional. But just try proving that in court. “Oh, I somehow lost control of my handlebars, judge.”   

Here’s where I get to praise my own driving skills … and still-got-it reaction time. I’ll bet nine out of 10 motorists using the left lane I was driving would have taken the side impact before they even know what hit them – with the causative biker going on his merry way ... chuckling? 

I’ll repeat that I’m an avid bicyclist, though mainly of an off-road ilk. As such, I’m an active supporter of biking for health, recreation and functional transport. However, there’s no doubt that bicyclists have become the bane of Island roadways, most of all the Boulevard. That said, I’ll still assert that the majority are conscientious, which still leaves thousands flaying about on roadways, sometimes in night gangs of kids dressed in black – and lightless.

There is no easy way to steer clear of awful peddlers, only meticulous driving – and knowing towns like Beach Haven and Surf City are becoming notorious for after-dark bikers, peddling as if they were unaware their lives are on the line.  

 

I’ve been asked by authorities, likely anticipating bike problems this summer, to mention that virtually any collision involving a bicycler must be reported to the police. In some cases, failing to do so could lead to a “leaving the scene of an accident” charge. You do not want that!

The legality works both ways. Without getting grabby, you as a motorist should prohibit an accident-involved biker from leaving the scene. Admittedly that gets spookily difficult of a younger person is involved. If nothing else, take a cellphone photo or take heed of what the victim was wearing for telling the authorities. Never mix it up, even if attacked. Defensively protect yourself but do not go on the attack. 

It's here I get to emphasize the modern need for dashcams in every vehicle out there. It’s for the good of all -- and greatly supersedes he said/she said. 

ADD-ON: Do not think that having a struck cyclist get up, brush off, and say “I’m good,” means a legal end to the matter. It’s not over until the police and possibly first aid responders and give the all clear -- or strongly suggest a trip to the hospital. Obviously, the PD will take down the essential info.

It is all too common for a struck victim to go home and then recognize injuries, some potentially fatal. I offer that scary possibility to urge victims of any accident to heed the advice of first responders when they strongly encourage getting checked out at the hospital.

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I came across this seemingly inconsequential looking close up photo of a DOA sturgeon. But the pic instantly sparked quite the flashback.

I had gotten a call about the rare sturgeon stranding in Surf City, just as I was fielding near nonstop phone calls and pondering the mounting Island madness. I simply had to run down and snap a couple photos. (There are a slew of others somewhere). 

While I was on the beach, camera clicking, I was compelled to frequently look out over the ocean to the southeast, where skies were forebodingly low and dark, with winds beginning to really gust from the northeast. You might have guessed, a storm named Hurricane Sandy was bearing down on the Island.

In all honesty, I thought the craziness over Sandy might be much over-do over nothing. It was technically nothing more than an entry-level 'cane. At the same time, this very blog was among the first to offer early word about the now infamous European model, projecting a storm of the century. Oh, it would be a doozy. But a hundred-year storm? Odds were against it ... and the odds lost. 

As a weather aside, Sandy was downgraded to little more than a moderate tropical storm when it hit us. What's more, she quickly departed. Not qualifying as a 100-year storm at that level. I recorded the highest gust, near 90. What very few saw coming, even the European model and yours truly, was the flooding, as a combination of oceanic weather factors aligned to literally push the entire Western Atlantic ashore. It wasn't all that far from tsunami-ish. The rest is history, including a rebuild that left many folks far better off, house-wise.

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RUNDOWN: Got to chat with quite a few anglers, in situ – north end beach, High Bar, South Jetty and boat launch (BL). Not a ton of weekend action, short of casual fluke and king hookups. However, I’m still hearing most waters are looking good to excellent, based on healthfulness, water clarity and bait play.

The fluking comes and goes, here and there, which is the way things usually fly when flatfishing. The keepers can be quite so, well above legal length.

The bay and inlet have offered easier drifts but smaller fluke prevail therein, though a hyper-fat 21-incher was taken “bayside, toward Barnegat Inlet,” per a call-in.

Ocean drifts for fluke have been most rewarding for savvy captains, i.e., those who know how to read the always subtle indicators for flatties down below. Success is almost always accompanied by a ton of stop-and-drop. Then, when that exploratory work is successfully done, the followers come gushing in.

I also got a few fluking skunk reports, though one boat reversed a bad day at sea with a few productive inlet drifts, done in a “Might as well give it try” manner.

There are some decent weakfish near Barnegat Inlet and within Manahawkin Bay. One sizeable C&R sparkler was taken on a “plastic fly.” I think I know what that such a fly might be. Another “big” weakie went for a locally produced jig, fished toward the north end of The Dike.  

Bass are showing for surfcaster chucking chunks of clam or bunker. Per a beachfront regular, bait is far out catching artificials, to the point he has resorted to keeping a dead stick in a rod holder while actively using his plugging rod to try coaxing swash fluke into taking small jigs or plastic-tailed Avas.  

I hesitate going overly big on kingfish at such an early date. I like to think of them as a summer turn-to, meant to fill the dogfish days of summer. But fishing is always takin’ what they’re givin’ and right now the shore suds are offering kingfish, some to jumbo size. Speaking of which, tiny kingfish offer so little meat that they should be left to catch again in some other future year. Even smaller ones take part in spawns.

Bluefish remain skinny and infrequent, though Raritan Bay currently has a decent showing. As I’ve hypothesized in the past, fish which have seemingly bypassed LBI might be coming straight in from offshore.

We’re far enough along to declare the LBI run of spring blues was officially awful, when compared to a few springs back when all gator hell broke loose near Barnegat Inlet. While our poor spring showing doesn’t rule out the possibility of snappers showing bayside this summer, overall it’s still a species singing the blues, a faltering fishery. Time will tell if it’s simply a typical historic swing in plenitude or if greater factors are in play.  

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Check out this fight for the tower ... falcon-style 

https://outlook.live.com/mail/0/inbox/id/AQQkADAwATExADU4Ny00YzM5LT...

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Governors From 9 States Urge Biden to Keep Offshore Wind a Priority

 

Copyright © 2021  Gloucester Daily Times / Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc.
By Colin A. Young
June 8, 2021

Gov. Charlie Baker and governors from eight other states poised to benefit environmentally and economically from the emerging offshore wind sector sent President Joe Biden a letter on Friday outlining their thoughts and recommendations for keeping the momentum going in the fledgling field.

Biden's administration has moved quickly to advance offshore wind projects, namely the Vineyard Wind I project that last month got the federal go-ahead it had been waiting about two years to receive, and Baker's administration has cheered the president's swift action.

Vineyard Wind, which is expected to deliver 800 megawatts of wind-generated power to Massachusetts by 2023, is on track to be the first utility-scale offshore wind farm in the United States. Mayflower Wind, an 804-MW project, is also under contract to deliver power to Massachusetts. And an upcoming state solicitation seeks a project of up to 1,600 MW that can come online by the end of the decade.

"Realization of the offshore wind opportunity depends crucially on several variables, including the pace and uniformity of the federal permitting process, the degree of regional coordination among states, the amount of available space in federal lease areas, the potential impacts on marine resources, and the availability of supporting infrastructure to deliver high-voltage power from project areas to the mainland," the group of governors wrote. "As such, we aim to collaborate across our states by consulting with each other on permitting challenges, natural resource consideration, identifying opportunities to coordinate schedules, and aligning construction timelines to meet states' respective clean energy targets."

In the letter, the governors suggested that the feds establish a schedule for identifying and auctioning new offshore lease areas to keep pace with the increasingly ambitious climate goals set by states such as Massachusetts. They also asked the president to ensure his administration provides "additional federal consultation with the states and increased regional leadership on addressing environmental, fishing, and maritime concerns during and after construction of facilities."

The continued development of the offshore wind sector is seen as crucial to meeting the new climate goals Massachusetts has adopted, specifically the requirement to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. By then, Baker administration officials expect to have 25 gigawatts of offshore wind (equivalent to about 31 Vineyard Winds) operating off the coast and will have to hit a pace in the 2030s of bringing about 1 GW of new wind power online each year to get there.

Also signed onto the letter are Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, Maine Gov. Janet MillsMaryland Gov. Larry Hogan, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.

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This World Oceans Day, Pledge to #DefendTheDeep

By: Marc Yaggi

June 3, 2021 Earth seen from Apollo 17.


When the crew of Apollo 17 took their famous photograph of Earth in 1972 on the last crewed lunar mission, what was suddenly and dramatically clear to the entire world was that we live on a Blue Planet. More than half of the oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere comes from the ocean. Yet, we know very little more about this vast, magnificent world than we did at the time of the Apollo 17 mission almost a half-century ago. We have gone to the moon, we have our sights set on colonizing Mars, but more than 80 percent of the world’s oceans have yet to be mapped and explored. We don’t know nearly enough about this amazing resource that supplies much of the air we breathe, provides us with food, regulates our climate, and locks away carbon from our atmosphere.  

We know even less about the deep sea, which is the planet’s largest habitat and is 99 percent unexplored. The parts of the deep sea we have explored reveal a myriad of exotic species, such as the very unique looking Anglerfish, which has its own headlamp unlike anything you’ve tried to buy at REI, the dumbo octopus, which, unlike most octopuses, doesn’t have an ink sac because it rarely encounters predators in the deep sea, and the aptly named yeti crab (Kiwa hirsuta) with its hairy claws. These creatures and others survive in an ecosystem of intense pressure and freezing temperatures. More species are being discovered all the time. At the same time, an untold thousands of species have yet to be discovered in the deep sea, and the value of this ecosystem is virtually unknown.

Just like the deep sea, chances are you haven’t heard much about Deep Seabed Mining, either. But pro-mining interests are working feverishly to launch the largest mining operation for minerals in history — more than 1.3 million square kilometers of the ocean floor. That is an area almost twice the size of Texas and located outside of any nation’s jurisdiction. These minerals are said to be critical to decarbonization and it is true that clean technologies are mineral intensive; however, those claims fail to account for other sources of minerals and breakthrough technologies like geothermal lithium.  

The International Seabed Authority (ISA) of the United Nations is tasked with governing and protecting the deep seabed, which is our public commons. However, ISA has issued 30 exploration contracts that are now awaiting permitting as ISA develops commercial exploitation regulations. Currently, it appears that none of the mining technologies being developed will result in “no serious harm.” In fact, potential impacts include, among other things, habitat loss, species extinction, noise pollution, light pollution, and disruption of carbon sequestration. These potential impacts and the lack of knowledge about the deep sea have recently prompted brands like BMW, Samsung, Google, and Volvo to support the call for a moratorium on Deep Seabed Mining.


A manganese nodule with coral growing on it is collected from the Clarion Clipperton Zone. Photo by ROV Team/GEOMAR (CC-BY 4.0).

We know extraordinarily little about the deep sea and the harm that would be caused by deep seabed mining, but we do know what harm has been caused by mining on land. We have destroyed mountain tops, filled in headwater streams, contaminated rivers, dirtied our air, depleted species, and denuded forests, among other atrocities. There is a real risk that deep seabed mining will permanently destroy the fragile deep sea ecosystem before we ever have a chance to study and understand it.  

Rushing to mine the deep sea and gambling with our life support system is too big a risk. It is clear that the International Seabed Authority should place a moratorium on deep seabed mining until much more is known about potential impacts on this fragile ecosystem.  

This World Oceans Day, pledge to #DefendTheDeep. Take action with The Oxygen Project here. 

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Offshore Wind Farms Show What Biden’s Climate Plan Is Up Against

Copyright © 2021 The New York Times Company
By Ivan Penn
June 8, 2021

A constellation of 5,400 offshore wind turbines meet a growing portion of Europe’s energy needs. The United States has exactly seven.

With more than 90,000 miles of coastline, the country has plenty of places to plunk down turbines. But legal, environmental and economic obstacles and even vanity have stood in the way.

President Biden wants to catch up fast — in fact, his targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions depend on that happening. Yet problems abound, including a shortage of boats big enough to haul the huge equipment to sea, fishermen worried about their livelihoods and wealthy people who fear that the turbines will mar the pristine views from their waterfront mansions. There’s even a century-old, politically fraught federal law, known as the Jones Act, that blocks wind farm developers from using American ports to launch foreign construction vessels.

Offshore turbines are useful because the wind tends to blow stronger and more steadily at sea than onshore. The turbines can be placed far enough out that they aren’t visible from land but still close enough to cities and suburbs that they do not require hundreds of miles of expensive transmission lines.

The Biden administration wants up to 2,000 turbines in the water in the next eight and a half years. Officials recently approved a project near Martha’s Vineyard that languished during the Trump administration and in May announced support for large wind farms off California’s coast. The $2 trillion infrastructure plan that Mr. Biden proposed in March would also increase incentives for renewable energy.

The cost of offshore wind turbines has fallen about 80 percent over the last two decades, to as low as $50 a megawatt-hour. While more expensive per unit of energy than solar and wind farms on land, offshore turbines often make economic sense because of lower transmission costs.

“Solar in the East is a little bit more challenging than in the desert West,” said Robert M. Blue, the chairman and chief executive of Dominion Energy, a big utility company that is working on a wind farm with nearly 200 turbines off the coast of Virginia. “We’ve set a net-zero goal for our company by 2050. This project is essential to hitting those goals.”

The slow pace of offshore wind development highlights the trade-offs between urgently addressing climate change and Mr. Biden’s other goals of creating well-paying jobs and protecting local habitats. The United States could push through more projects if it was willing to repeal the Jones Act’s protections for domestic shipbuilding, for example, but that would undercut the president’s employment promises.

These difficult questions can’t simply be solved by federal spending. As a result, it could be difficult or impossible for Mr. Biden to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector by 2035 and reach net-zero emissions across the economy by 2050, as he would like.

“I think the clear fact that other places got a jump on us is important,” said Amanda Lefton, the director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the agency that leases federal waters to wind developers. “We are not going to be able to build offshore wind if we don’t have the right investments.”

Europe’s head start means it has established a thriving complex of turbine manufacturing, construction ships and an experienced work force. That’s why the United States could have to rely on European components, suppliers and ships for years.

Installing giant offshore wind turbines — the largest one, made by General Electric, is 853 feet high — is difficult work. Ships with cranes that can lift more than a thousand tons haul large components out to sea. At their destinations, legs are lowered into the water to raise the ships and make them stationary while they work. Only a few ships can handle the biggest components, and that’s a big problem for the United States.

A 1,600-mile round trip to Canada.

Lloyd Eley, a project manager, helped build nuclear submarines early in his career and has spent the last eight years at Dominion Energy. None of that quite prepared him for overseeing the construction of two wind turbines off the Virginia coast.

Mr. Eley’s biggest problem was the Jones Act, which requires ships that travel from a U.S. port to anywhere within the country, including its waters, to be made and registered in the United States and owned and staffed by Americans.

The largest U.S.-built ships designed for doing offshore construction work are about 185 feet long and can lift about 500 tons, according to a Government Accountability Office report published in December. That is far too small for the giant components that Mr. Eley’s team was working with.

So Dominion hired three European ships and operated them out of the Port of Halifax in Nova Scotia. One of them, the Vole au Vent from Luxembourg, is 459 feet (140 meters) long and can lift 1,654 tons.

Mr. Eley’s crew waited weeks at a time for the European ships to travel more than 800 miles each way to port. The installations took a year. In Europe, it would have been completed in a few weeks. “It was definitely a challenge,” he said.

The U.S. shipping industry has not invested in the vessels needed to carry large wind equipment because there have been so few projects here. The first five offshore turbines were installed in 2016 near Block Island, R.I. Dominion’s two turbines were installed last year.

Had the Jones Act not existed — it was enacted after World War I to ensure that the country had ships and crews to mobilize during war and emergencies — Dominion could have run European vessels out of Virginia’s ports. The law is sacrosanct in Congress, and labor unions and other supporters argue that repealing it would eliminate thousands of jobs at shipyards and on boats, leaving the United States reliant on foreign companies.

Demand for large ships could grow significantly over the next decade because the United States, Europe and China have ambitious offshore wind goals. Just eight ships in the world can transport the largest turbine parts, according to Dominion.

Dominion is spending $500 million on a ship, being built in Brownsville, Texas, that can haul large wind equipment. Named after a sea monster from Greek myth, Charybdis, the ship will be 472 feet (144 meters) long and able to lift 2,200 tons. It will be ready at the end of 2023. The company said the ship, which it will also rent to other developers, would let it affordably install roughly 200 more turbines by 2026. Dominion spent $300 million on its first two but hopes the others will cost $40 million each.

Fishermen fear for their livelihoods.

For the last 24 years, Tommy Eskridge, a resident of Tangier Island, has made a living catching conchs and crabs off the Virginia coast.

One area he works is where Dominion plans to place its turbines. Federal regulators have adjusted spacing between turbines to one nautical mile to create wider lanes for fishing and other boats, but Mr. Eskridge, 54, worries that the turbines could hurt his catch.

The area has yielded up to 7,000 pounds of conchs a day, though Mr. Eskridge said a typical day produced about half that amount. A pound can fetch $2 to $3, he said.

Mr. Eskridge said the company and regulators had not done enough to show that installing turbines would not hurt his catch. “We just don’t know what it’s going to do.”

Annie Hawkins, executive director of the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance, which includes hundreds of fishing groups and companies, worries that the government is failing to scrutinize proposals and adequately plan.

“What they’re doing is saying, ‘Let’s take this thing we’ve really never done here, go all in, objectors be damned,’” Ms. Hawkins said. “Coming from a fisheries perspective, we know there is going to be a massive-scale displacement. You can’t just go fish somewhere else.”

Fishing groups point to recent problems in Europe to justify their concerns. Orsted, the world’s largest offshore wind developer, for example, has sought a court injunction to keep fishermen and their equipment out of an area of the North Sea set for new turbines while it studies the area.

Orsted said that it had tried to “work collaboratively with fishermen” but that it had sought the order because its work was complicated by gear left in the area by a fisherman it could not identify. “To safely conduct the survey work and only as a last resort, we were left with no choice but to secure the right to remove this gear,” the company said in a statement.

When developers first applied in 2001 for a permit for Cape Wind, a project between Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, resistance was fierce. Opponents included Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat who died in 2009, and William I. Koch, an industrialist.

Neither wanted the turbines marring the views of the coast from their vacation compounds. They also argued that the project would obstruct 16 historical sites, disrupt fishermen and clog up waterways used by humpback, pilot and other whales.

After years of legal and political battles, the developer of Cape Wind gave up in 2017. But well before that happened, Cape Wind’s troubles terrified energy executives who were considering offshore wind.

Projects up and down the East Coast are mired in similar fights. Residents of the Hamptons, the wealthy enclave, opposed two wind development areas, and the federal government shelved the project. On the New Jersey shore, some homeowners and businesses are opposing offshore wind because they fear it will raise their electricity rates, disrupt whales and hurt the area’s fluke fishery.

Energy executives want the Biden administration to mediate such conflicts and speed up permit approval.

“It’s been artificially, incrementally slow because of some inefficiencies on the federal permitting side,” said David Hardy, chief executive of Orsted North America.

Renewable-energy supporters said they were hopeful because the country had added lots of wind turbines on land — 66,000 in 41 states. They supplied more than 8 percent of the country’s electricity last year.

Ms. Lefton, the regulator who oversees leasing of federal waters, said future offshore projects would move more quickly because more people appreciated the dangers of climate change.

“We have a climate crisis in front of us,” she said. “We need to transition to clean energy. I think that will be a big motivator.”

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