Nils E. Stolpe/FishNet USA
© 2021 Nils E. Stolpe
September 17, 2021
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While I might have missed some of it, I haven’t seen much discussion of “who’s on first” vis-à-vis offshore windfarm development. Considering this, and considering that their development and the development of other controversial (at least to “historical” users of our nearshore and offshore waters) has the potential to severely impact, or perhaps destroy, destroy the domestic commercial fishing industry starting in the mid-Atlantic/New England, I thought it might be instructive to examine some of the corporations who are interested in/committed to this INDUSTRIALIZATION (yup, for emphasis that’s with a capital “I” followed by 16 more capital letters, all in bold type) of the ocean areas waters that have fed so many of our citizens and provided onshore and offshore employment for fishing communities since pre-revolutionary times.
There are hundreds of individuals, corporations and organizations figuratively drooling to get into the wind business-and the windfall profits that, one way (bottom line) or another (governments subsidies), look to be a part of it. But in the table below I’ve only listed a small handful of the corporations that have shown a current interest in our particular hunk of ocean; southern New England and the mid-Atlantic. To provide some context I’ve also listed some other corporations that you might be familiar with. I selected this last group to demonstrate the kind of corporate interest looking at your ocean and where these corporations fit among the world’s corporations.
FYI, the linked website includes the most value-determined by their market-of the 5,273 most valuable companies.
(Note that I am not an economist, or anything approaching being an economist. I found the website Largest Companies by Market Cap via a Google search, it provided the information I needed to illustrate this article and I used the information it contained. I can’t vouch for its accuracy but it does illustrate the relative scale of the level of potential influence of the involved business entities. The URL of the site is https://companiesmarketcap.com/.)
United Parcel Service
The Boeing Company
Archer Daniels Midland
From the website: The market capitalization sometimes referred as Marketcap, is the value of a publicly listed company. In most cases it can be easily calculated by multiplying the share price with the amount of outstanding shares.
There are obviously some huge, massively influential actors in the wind energy drama, highlighted in red, that is unfolding right off our coasts, and in the middle of offshore fishing grounds that have been utilized by our fishermen since colonial times and inshore waters that were used by Native Americans for many prior generations.
(Note that I have included Microsoft because of their ongoing interest in submerged data centers-https://news.microsoft.com/innovation-stories/project-natick-underwater-datacenter/.)
For a bit more context, the total commercial seafood landings in New Jersey in 2020 (the last year for which data was available) were valued at $185.5 million dollars. The total for New England and the mid Atlantic states was $1.7 billion dollars.
In 2020 Siemens AG revenue was $67.4 billion dollars, Oersted was $8.5 billion, GE was $5.23 billion, Microsoft was $44.2 billion and Equinor was $45.8 billion.
From a slightly different perspective, following is a list of some of the entities-either foundations or environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs)-that have cost the worlds, and more importantly the United States, commercial fishing dependent businesses and commercial fishermen untold billions of dollars over the last two to three decades, have carried out a particularly effective campaign demonizing commercial fishermen in the public’s and the media’s eye, and have generally tied up commercial fishing interests in state and federal courts.
Value of Assets (in millions of dollars)
The Packard Foundation
The Pew Trusts
Natural Resources Defense Council
Obviously they are not in the same league as the mega-corporations that are intent on capitalizing on ocean real estate are in their ability to influence the public and/or the pols, in their ability to commit resources to a particular cause (e.g. wind power, server farms, telecommunications, hydrogen/oxygen production, etc.), and in their ability to design, implement and coordinate long term strategies.
We are at a turning point as far as customary ocean use doctrine is concerned. The political influence of the commercial fishing industry, thanks to the commitment of perhaps several hundreds of millions of dollars (but I doubt billions) by anti-fishing activist organizations, has dwindled from the early Magnuson days. At the same time a large proportion of the populace has been convinced that one of the most effective and almost immediately implementable solutions to the global warming problem lies in offshore wind. And that seabed mining is going to be the 21st Century equivalent of the 19th century gold rushes-there were a bunch of them.
The questions that all of us should be asking deal with how commercial fishing can best fit in with seemingly inevitable competition for access to ocean resources, but this time with much more formidable competitors.