The New Bedford Port Authority has reached an agreement with all offshore wind developers operating in the Massachusetts/Rhode Island market to serve as the designated Fisheries Representative of the commercial fishing industry to each of the development companies.
Under federal guidelines issued by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), offshore wind developers must establish a Fisheries Representative to be the fishing community’s primary point of contact for communicating project-related concerns to the developer.
In this role, the New Bedford Port Authority will act as a central clearinghouse of information, convene stakeholders, facilitate dialogue between fishermen and respective developers, and advocate for ways to mitigate impacts of wind projects on commercial fishermen. It will also work with state and federal agencies to adopt policies and regulations needed to ensure the viability of commercial fishing operations.
Recently, the Port Authority convened a working group of East Coast fishing interests stretching from North Carolina to Maine which has provided industry comment on current and future development plans, turbine layout, and transit corridors.
Massachusetts and Rhode Island waters have attracted the most interest as the waters south of Martha’s Vineyard account for roughly 25% offshore wind energy reserves nationally. Developers pursuing projects in MA/RI waters include Vineyard Wind and Ørsted. Rhode-Island based Deepwater Wind was recently acquired by Ørsted.
“The New Bedford Port Authority as one of four Fishery Representatives to Bay State Wind, allows us to effectively communicate with commercial fishermen in New Bedford, helping us understand their needs and helping them understand ours without rushing stakeholder engagement, ensuring a robust process as we build up the offshore wind industry in the U.S,” said Thomas Brostrom, President of Ørsted North America.
New Bedford-based Vineyard Wind in October entered into a lease for use of the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal, where the company will stage construction of the nation’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farm – the 800MW Vineyard Wind.
“We’re well on our way to making New Bedford a national hub of offshore wind, and the New Bedford Port Authority has been a reliable advocate for fishermen as we navigate this new industry together,” said Erich Stephens, Chief Development Officer of Vineyard Wind.
“Fishing remains the anchor industry for New Bedford and the region, and as we work together to ensure that both industries thrive, the Port Authority is a natural fit to represent fishing interests to all developers.”