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It’s Not Just Windmills

Updated: 6 days ago

© 2021 Nils E. Stolpe

FishNet USA/ April 12. 2019


Demand for undersea cables will only grow as more businesses rely on cloud computing services. And technology expected around the corner, like more powerful artificial intelligence and driverless cars, will all require fast data speeds as well. Areas that didn’t have internet are now getting access, with the United Nations reporting that for the first time more than half the global population is now online.


“This is a huge part of the infrastructure that’s making that happen,” said Debbie Brask, the vice president at SubCom, who is managing the Google project. “All of that data is going in the undersea cables.” (How the Internet Travels Across Oceans, Adam Striano, NY Times, 03/10/2019, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/03/10/technology/internet-cables-oceans.html).


I have known Captain Jim Lovgren for most of thirty years. I have worked with him on a number of issues and have grown to respect both his intelligence and his ability to get to the heart of a problem without getting sidetracked by what are generally minor distractions. Based on this I have no compunctions about strongly recommending that you read the piece that he wrote and Borehead has published on his website http://www.FISHERYNATION.com titled Its Time For A Fishing Industry Buy Out By Offshore Wind (and while I’m at it I’ll also recommend that if you don’t already you should immediately subscribe to FisheryNation as well. Borehead publishes material that, while it is sometimes controversial, is generally on target and not reflective of the overly-cautious perspective that seems to be plaguing other commercial fisheries publications.)


If you follow what I write in FishNet-USA, you know that I have been concerned about the potential impacts of wind power development on our coastal waters, and of the critters that you catch that live in those waters, for years. That concern is based on a significant amount of research done by extremely credible scientists, but is too often ignored by bureaucrats, by politicians and by the so-called environmentalists who are seemingly blinded by the “something for nothing” allure of wind power. This is exacerbated by the sense of impending doom that has been part and parcel of what is largely a Chicken Little-like approach of the national print, broadcast and social media outlets to climate change.


And, unfortunately, I see the struggle that both recreational and commercial fishermen are facing with myriad huge windmills planned in our coastal waters as only the tip of the iceberg.


The oceans have been “up for grabs” for generations, but the current crop of grabbers are a passel of high tech billionaires with unimaginable wealth and power who recognize the inherent technological, sociological and economic limitations of land-based and space-based telecom expansion.


But the oceans are out there, they offer unsurpassed access to the major population centers that are and will continue to be the focus of telecommunications growth, and the only other groups that have major claims upon their use are fishermen (and the world’s navies, but unlike most of our elected officials, at least for now they are beyond the reach of Silicon Valley). And as an aside, guess where the major funding of efforts to delegitimize our claims has come from.

And don’t forget the allure of free cooling. All of that cold water just waiting for our modern robber barons to put it to use. And aquaculture. And kelp farming. And the list goes on and on.


So, if you are looking for a comfortable future in commercial fishing take Jim Lovgren’s words seriously. Consider them, discuss them with your colleagues and accept the fact that, at least in some peoples’ opinion the camel has already gotten its nose in the tent and the rest of him is going to soon follow. But don’t forget that wind power is just a starting point. Over 70% of the earth’s area is covered by oceans. Unutilized (except for fishing) from time immemorial, their many potentialities have been “discovered” by the huge money folks, they are on the cusp of over-exploitation, and your future could easily become a casualty.


For a bit more depth on this issue, see my “Fish Wars” or a Regime Shift in Ocean Governance? On the Fishery Nation site (http://fisherynation.com/fish-wars-or-a-regime-shift-in-ocean-governance). For a comprehensive though somewhat dated look at the world of submarine cables see How the Internet works: Submarine fiber, brains in jars, and coaxial cables - A deep dive into Internet infrastructure, plus a rare visit to a subsea cable landing site in the 5/26/2016 edition of Ars Technica by Bob Dormon https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2016/05/how-the-internet-works-submarine-cables-data-centres-last-mile/.