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Wind farm developers say key to working with fishermen is to get engaged and stay engaged

 

NEW BEDFORD, MA – BayState Wind, the offshore wind energy project in the Massachusetts Wind Energy Area, is in the process of preparing its construction and operation plan (COP) while awaiting data from the meteorological buoy it launched last May.

As part of the COP, Bay State hosted an industry-to-industry meeting in late January with about a dozen fishermen.

“The concept of using a panel is not a a requirement,” said Kevin Chu spokesperson for Bay State Wind, part of the Massachusetts lease area.

“The unique thing is that Bay State Wind is trying to get a whole suite of fisheries’ interests in the room for a more balanced and detailed view of the concerns of the fishermen,” Chu said.

Chu said that those who agreed to attend came from a wide array of fishing activities in the Bay State Wind lease area.

“We’re not really trying to get people who speak for their industry, but to get people who are knowledgeable in their fishery and about how they fish,” Chu said.

“The whole point is to have a conversation to see if there are ways to design this project to minimize the impact on fisheries.”

The group of about a dozen fishermen commercially fish lobster, general category scallops, and ocean quahogs and surfclams.  They use both small mesh and large mesh otter trawls, fixed gear, and dredges.

The group also included recreational fishermen, and highly migratory species (HMS) permit holders, Chu said.

And there was a good geographic distribution as well: fishermen came from Martha’s Vineyard, New Bedford, Point Judith, Long Island, and Maryland.

The goal is to help Bay State Wind to do a better job of designing the wind farm by  better understanding fishermen’s concerns.

Chu says there will be further outreach on the project and suggests that anyone interested may contact him by email at <kchu@sea.edu>.  All comments will be included in the report as part of the Construction and Operations Plan (COP).

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), overseeing the offshore wind energy projects as part of their renewable energy division, requires specific and detailed fisheries data from the wind farm developers.

While BOEM doesn’t specify how the data is to be obtained, they recommend that developers hire a fisheries liaison with knowledge and…

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