CA - Fishermen join forces amid Humboldt County offshore wind development (with news compilation)

A recently formed association is seeking to afford some protection to the fishermen who will lose access to fishing grounds as the state and country transition to running on renewable energy like offshore wind.

Earlier this year, Humboldt County’s commercial fishermen joined with other members of their industry across the North Coast, from Crescent City to San Francisco, to form the California Fishermen’s Resiliency Association. The association is a point of contact for offshore wind developers, with whom the association wants to develop industry-to-industry contracts called fishing community benefit agreements that will ensure harm to California’s community fishing grounds is minimized and mitigated.

“Fishermen are not opposed to renewable energy,” Ken Bates, a board member of Humboldt Fishermen’s Marketing Association and a representative of the California Fishermen’s Resiliency Association, told the California Coastal Commission earlier this year in April. “But fishermen are opposed to the industrialization and loss of California’s fishing grounds.”

There are already a lot of restrictions on when and where commercial fishing can take place along the California coast and fishermen have said the installation of offshore wind turbines would further limit their access. The two leases being sold about 20 miles off the coast of Humboldt County total 132,369 acres. The total is 373,268 acres when including the three lease offered in Morro Bay.

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Read also

As the Biden Administration Eyes Wind Leases Off California’s Coast, the Port of Humboldt Sees Opportunity, Emma Foehringer Merchant, Inside Climate News, January 5, 2022

Five California offshore wind leases proposed, Kirk Moore, National Fisherman, May 26, 2022

You're Invited: California Proposed Lease Sale Public Auction Seminar, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management / June 10, 2022

US Senator Wyden (D-OR) discusses offshore wind energy, other topics in town hall, Coos Bay World / June 09, 2022

BOEM Proposes First Ever West Coast Offshore Wind Lease Sale, Perkins Coie / June 09, 2022

Process for offshore wind energy lease auction outlined, Santa Ynez Valley News / June 09, 2022

California offshore wind - a gold rush in waiting? Seatrade Maritime News, June 2, 2022

Big Blow: Offshore wind power’s devastating costs and impacts on North Carolina, Chatham Journal Weekly / June 08, 2022

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The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is partially requiring and partially encouraging developers to work with local communities if they secure one or more of the leases. The proposed sale notice with preliminary details about the offshore wind leases and auction process includes proposed incentives that would be given to developers that commit to community benefit agreements.

Community benefit agreements are arrangements made between community benefit groups and developers in which the former agrees to support a project, which generally requires several public hearings, in exchange for a developer’s commitment to fund or provide certain benefits to the local area or industry. Those benefits can range from offering workforce training programs to helping fund road repairs.

Years before BOEM’s offshore wind lease process began, developer Castle Wind and the Central Coast Fishermen’s Associations were negotiating a comprehensive fishing community benefit agreement that committed to avoiding, minimizing and mitigating the harm done to commercial fishing from developing offshore wind farms in the state’s community fishing grounds.

That set a high bar for industry-to-industry agreements and the fishermen’s resiliency association is pushing for a statewide fishing community benefit agreement, the provisions of which would be locally administered by the association’s regional management committees.

The association is made up of seven Northern California Port Commercial Fishermen’s Associations, including the ports of Crescent City, Trinidad Bay, Humboldt Bay, Shelter Cove, Fort Bragg or Noyo, Bodega Bay, and San Francisco. The association is planning on expanding membership to the California Port Fishermen’s Associations of Central and Southern California, too.

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Other Reader resources:

https://www.boem.gov/renewable-energy/state-activities/california

https://www.offshorewindca.org/s/Draft-CEC-AB-525-Report-May-2022.pdf

https://www.regulations.gov/docket/BOEM-2021-0044/comments (comments re Morro Bay)

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