The commercial development of ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) operations will involve some environmental perturbations for which there is no precedent experience. The pumping of very large volumes of warm surface water and cold deep water and its subsequent discharge will result in the impingement, entrainment, and redistribution of biota. Additional stresses to biota will be caused by biocide usage and temperature depressions. However, the artificial upwelling of nutrients associated with the pumping of cold deep water, and the artificial reef created by an OTEC plant may have positive effects on the local environment. Although more detailed information is needed to assess the net effect of an OTEC operation on fisheries, certain assumptions and calculations are made supporting the conclusion that the potential risk to fisheries is not significant enough to deter the early development of OTEC. It will be necessary to monitor a commercial-scale plant in order to remove many of the remaining uncertainties.