Deepwater Wind has adopted a first-of-its-kind procedure designed to prevent impacts to commercial fishing gear from offshore wind energy activities. The procedure was developed in close coordination with the commercial fishing industry, and is based off extensive feedback from fishermen in ports up and down the Atlantic coast.
Deepwater Wind is the first American offshore wind developer to adopt such procedures.
“We know that offshore wind and all other ocean users can coexist – we see that happening every day at the Block Island Wind Farm,” said Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski. “We are committed to working with the commercial fishing industry and ironing out our differences. We want to be good neighbors out there.”
Grybowski added: “We’re taking this important step because it’s the right thing to do.”
Deepwater Wind believes that keeping fishermen informed is the key to preventing damage to fishing gear. Beginning this month, Deepwater Wind is requiring all Deepwater Wind vessels and personnel to comply with the procedure.
The procedure’s key focus is on providing frequent updates on offshore activities to fishermen, via Deepwater Wind fisheries liaisons and a team of fisheries representatives based in regional ports, as well as through online updates for mariners and twice-daily updates on VHF channels.
While Deepwater Wind expects there will be only limited impacts on fishing gear from offshore wind activities, the company has included a process for gear-loss/damage claims should they occur.
“The issue of gear loss has come up consistently from the commercial fishing industry in the context of offshore wind development,” said New Bedford Port Authority Executive Director Ed Anthes-Washburn. “We appreciate Deepwater Wind for listening to those concerns and developing a transparent process for dealing with this important issue as offshore wind farms are developed. Mitigating conflict through open communications with the fishing industry is an important step as this new industry takes root off the coast of New England.”
Deepwater Wind employs a 50-year veteran commercial fisherman as its liaison to the East Coast fishing fleet, as well as fisheries representatives in the fishing ports of New Bedford, Mass., Point Judith, R.I., and Montauk, N.Y. The company’s website posts daily bulletins for mariners with project information and notice of any vessels or construction activities at-sea.
Deepwater Wind is currently in active development on utility-scale wind farms to serve Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Maryland.
“The Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association is grateful for the dedication of Deepwater Wind toward the commercial fishing industry by creating an avenue online to easily report gear conflicts,” said Beth Casoni, executive director of the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association (MLA). “We are hopeful these won’t be needed and with the multiple notices to mariners and ads in the MLA newspaper, our members are actively engaged in the development of offshore wind in Southern New England.”