Engaging in offshore wind power process, projects

Offshore wind power has gone from the drawing board and onto the water in a big way off the New England coast.

As this issue goes to press, two wind power projects off the Massachusetts coast are ramping up survey work in preparation for selecting specific sites for eventual wind farm construction.

Denmark-based DONG Energy, known locally as Bay State Wind, is conducting geophysical survey work using the 230’ research vessel Ocean Reseacher working out of New Bedford’s Marine Commerce Terminal.

OffshoreMW, based in New Jersey, also announced plans to begin survey work using a vessel working out of New Bedford starting on Sept. 1.

Fishermen, obviously, have a stake in this process and it would seem regulators and the wind energy companies are committed to working with the industry to address commercial fishing concerns.

DONG Energy has contracted John Williamson to serve as its fisheries liaison, working with Steve Welch as the fishing industry representative, on the company’s Bay State Wind project.

Jim Kendall has been hired by OffshoreMW to serve as its fishing industry representative.  At least in the short term, he will be working with Rachel Pachter, the company’s senior permitting adviser, who is initially serving as fisheries liaison.

Williamson and Kendall have each served on the New England Fisheries Management Council and understand both fishing industry concerns and the complexities of engaging stakeholders in the wind power planning and implementation process.

Both have also been proponents of change, which does not always come easily to our industry.  Williamson is credited with helping introduce the use of pingers to reduce marine mammal entanglements in fishing gear and Kendall was instrumental in intoducing vessel tracking system (VTS) technology to a skeptical industry.

They are problem solvers and, along with well-known fisherman and industry advocate Welch, will work with fishermen and the wind power companies to minimize negative impacts to the fishing industry as these projects move forward.

Whatever your take on offshore wind power, we encourage you to pay attention to what is happening on our waters, know your options in terms of influence over wind farm siting decisions, know how and when to seek mitigation monies when fishing activities are disrupted, and work with these capable individuals to ensure that your voice is heard.   /cfn/

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