New US Pact Targets Fisheries and Offshore Wind Coordination
The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), NOAA Fisheries and the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on fisheries and offshore wind coordination.
Under the 10-year agreement, the parties will collaborate on the science and process of offshore wind energy development on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf.
RODA, a coalition of fishing industry associations and companies, said it will work with NOAA and BOEM to compile, develop and deliver the best available scientific products and information necessary to address offshore development, fisheries management and ecosystem health.
The parties will collaborate on engaging local and regional fishing interests in the offshore wind development process, identifying most effective ways to bring fishing expertise and information into planning and development processes, and developing a collaborative regional research and monitoring framework to ensure decisions are based on the best available science.
"Any development on the Outer Continental Shelf must consider how these activities can affect current ocean users and the marine environment," said BOEM Acting Director Walter Cruickshank.
"That is why working with federal, state, and local agencies, fishing communities, and the public is such an essential part of our renewable energy program. We look forward to working with NOAA and RODA through early and constant communication to ensure that the most recent information is available to decision makers."
According to RODA, collaboration with BOEM, states, and fishing industry interests throughout the renewables leasing process will help improve compatibility of offshore wind with other ocean uses and create a regional research and monitoring program that will help improve understanding of potential ecological, economic, and social impacts of offshore wind.
"The fishing industry has expressed its concern about the potential impacts of rapid large-scale wind energy development to coastal communities and sustainable fishing practices," said Annie Hawkins, RODA Executive Director.
"This agreement paves a way forward for fishing communities to give meaningful input to federal regulators in determining the future of our ocean resources."
In 2016, approximately 4,600 vessels landed more than 1 billion pounds of key fish species, supporting some 140,000 seafood jobs, RODA said, emphasizing that the region is vital for many endangered and threatened species, including the North Atlantic right whale, necessitating protective measures to ensure survival for future generations.