With 10 dead whales washing ashore on New Jersey and New York beaches since December, 30 mayors of New Jersey coastal towns have banded together to call for an immediate moratorium on all offshore wind activity.

The latest whale death was confirmed at Far Rockaway in Queens.

In a letter to President Joe Biden and Gov. Phil Murphy, the group is urging a thorough investigation by federal and state authorities to determine why so many whales are suddenly dying.

The mayors are voicing concerns that acoustic surveys related to offshore wind development off the Jersey coast may be a contributing factor in the unprecedented number of whale fatalities over the past couple of months.

Not opposed to clean energy

Their letter emphasizes that “while we are not opposed to clean energy, we are concerned about the impacts these projects may already be having on our environment.”

They note offshore wind developers have obtained permits for the “incidental taking” of whales, which would typically be illegal under federal law. This could include potential injury to whales, such as damaging their hearing, or by causing behavioral disruptions in feeding and migration.

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The group points out that in response to similar concerns, Benjamin Laws, the deputy chief for the permits and conservation division with the NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources, says that “there is an expectation that the work will impact marine life, including whales.”

Gov. Phil Murphy dismisses concerns

Supporters of the giant wind farm project being built off the South Jersey coastline include Murphy, who has insisted that these concerns have been debunked.

NOAA and several other environmental groups have also denounced the lack of evidence about the cause of recent whale deaths and have dismissed speculation there may be a link to the offshore wind work underway.

On Sunday, hundreds of people gathered on the Point Pleasant Beach boardwalk to join the call for a pause in wind projects so the impact on marine life can be researched.

The mayors calling for a pause come from these municipalities:

  • Atlantic Highlands
  • Avon by the Sea
  • Barnegat Light
  • Bay Head
  • Beach Haven
  • Berkley
  • Brick
  • Brielle
  • Brigantine
  • Deal
  • Harvey Cedars
  • Linwood
  • Little Egg Harbor
  • Long Beach
  • Mantoloking
  • Margate City
  • North Wildwood
  • Ocean City
  • Point Pleasant
  • Point Pleasant Beach
  • Sea Girt
  • Seaside Park
  • Ship Bottom
  • Spring Lake
  • Stafford
  • Stone Harbor
  • Toms River
  • Ventnor City
  • Wildwood
  • Wildwood Crest

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