As the offshore wind industry in the U.S. grows, fishermen and other mariners will have a substantial number of opportunities to supplement their income during all phases of an offshore wind project’s lifecycle, according to a new study commissioned by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).
The study, compiled by the Renewables Consulting Group (RCG), has found that 2,600 job years of supplemental work for fishermen and other mariners could be supported based on current Northeastern U.S. offshore wind commitments alone.
“Fisherman and other mariners already possess the skills that will be essential in building out the emerging US offshore wind industry”, said Emily Kuhn, Principal at RCG. “With minimal training needed to close gaps and transfer knowledge, recruiting these fishermen and mariners to assist with projects can benefit all sides. Not only will mariners have access to supplemental jobs and income, but the offshore wind industry will have increased access to a local, talented workforce”.
Fishermen have already been hired for liaison positions, and fishing vessels are currently being used for surveys, scientific data collection, and as scout vessels to prevent conflict between offshore wind activities and vessel traffic or fishing gear.
The results of the analysis show that jobs that employ entire vessels comprise most of the supplemental work available in offshore wind. This type of work may be particularly appealing to local vessel owners/operators because they would be more likely to keep captains, crews, and vessels together without removing talented crew from their vessels, according to the study.
In the New York Bight, jobs that employ entire vessels in the offshore wind industry include fish surveys, mammal and bird surveys, safety vessels, scout vessels, and charter fishing, sight-seeing, and tourism.
In 2019, New York set the goal of developing 9,000 MW of offshore wind by 2035, as outlined in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. The first projects are expected to be operational by mid-2020s.
Targets across the Northeastern states could bring a total of 23.3 GW of installed offshore wind capacity to the U.S. by 2035.