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Capt. Monty Hawkins take on Wind Area Survey
Thursday, August 13, 2015

Please Post And Encourage Comment!
Concerning survey impacts to reef fish in the Maryland Wind Area.
Although I am positive a sub-bottom profiler causes sea bass & flounder to stop feeding completely at 3 miles and affects feeding even at 6 miles, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) claims otherwise.
This exact survey equipment has been used repeatedly off Ocean City in recent years for up to several months at a time.
Fishing in the MD Wind Area went from bad to awful during and following this year's survey.
I believe reef fish have left.

NOAA wants to hear other user's observations concerning the MD Wind Area.
Anyone with ANY observation please write Kevin Chu who is in charge of constituent engagement for NOAA's Greater Atlantic Region.
A single year's surveying can cause fish & fishers headaches. Here we've had year after year surveys; they've had a bad & lasting effect on our fishing & our reefs, especially the Great Eastern Reef.

Capt. Monty Hawkins
[email protected]
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

Greetings All,
BOEM informs me today that a sub-bottom profiler has no effect on fish.
I beg to differ.
We have a HUGE AREA of seafloor reef-fish appear to have vacated. I believe it is an area greater than 500 square miles.

When Maryland's R/V Kehrin was doing survey work for the Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative (MARI) prior to deployment of NYCTA cars at Jackspot Reef in, I believe, May 2007; Capt. Rick Younger did not seem surprised in the least that his sub-bottom profiler had the instantaneous effect of shutting off what-was a magnificent sea bass bite. The Kehrin's unit was turned on just several hundred yards from my boat because the reef site is only 1/2 a square mile.
Fishing and catching wonderfully; the profiler positively & instantaneously shut-off the feeding of sea bass.
Capt. Younger, of course, turned his profiler unit off and the fish resumed feeding.

Survey boats for wind energy have not been so gracious.

In recent years surveys have been relentless. There is no variance. The effect to flounder & sea bass is 100% predictable.
Another illustration: on July 31st, 2013, I was fishing the Great Eastern artificial reef about 18 NM ESE OC MD in the southern-most portion of the wind lease. I could see the Scarlett Isabella closing and watched my clients' success diminish to absolute-zero when she was approximately 3NM N our position. As my nearest reef that might provide suitable success was either 8NM south or 13NM ESE, I waited for the survey boat to turn north and move its equipment out of range (about 5 to 7 miles).
Closing to 2NM ENE my position with survey gear in use, no fish at all bit while the Scarlett Isabella was so near. None.
Then, at 10:15, she came full-stop and the bite went 'wild' (comparatively). With flounder & sea bass coming over the rail, clients cheerfully exclaimed; "Don't move Captain, they're here!" (I, of course, had kept clients over fish all the while.)
A helicopter approached the Scarlett Isabella and landed aboard ship. That's why she'd stopped. When the helicopter left a while later, the ship came-about and began a new survey leg.
The bite, of course, died completely & at once as they re-started their survey gear.
At 10:40 AM I hailed the Scarlett Isabella on VHF 16 & asked to switch to channel 10. I questioned if they had turned off the sub-bottom profiler while the helicopter was aboard. A few minutes later I was told, "Yes, the sub-bottom profiler was off then."

The Scarlett Isabella was back again last year.
Then this year the Shearwater came and surveyed the whole blasted thing yet again.
There are several notations in my log how the bite would fall off, then stop, as the Shearwater approached on several occasions over the last several months.

It was too much.
Like me, the fish have had enough.
They left.
Or died.

The survey is long since done - weeks ago.
The bottom it killed is still dead.
Spending money I do not have, I'll film affected reefs soon.

BOEM's done nothing. Survey's have done nothing. Sub-bottom profilers are as gentle as a mother's kiss...
That's one side of the story.
There's another.

Perhaps this work would be better suited http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/documents/2015_final_efh_review.pdf page 107 "Major Impacts"
? Major impacts would be detectable, extensive, and severe and would include a high level of physiological/anatomical damage to, mortality to, or extended, long-term displacement of, a federally managed fish species. Major impacts would also include extensive, long-term damage (quantifiable loss depending on the habitat type) to EFH, or extensive, chronic disruption of behavioral patterns (including spawning, feeding, or ontogenetic migrations) that would adversely affect a species.
Government's not done a damn thing but let fish & fishers down on anything reef related in the Mid-Atlantic.
Government needs to change gears.
I will have a new video up by late next week. The comparison of the same reefs between 2004 and 2015 is not going to be pretty.

Capt. Monty Hawkins
[email protected]
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

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