Fishermen repair scallop dredge docked in New Bedford. (Photo by Peter Pereira, Standard-Times).

CT - New Bedford Port Authority weighs in on fisheries mitigation for offshore wind

As offshore wind companies seek permits for new projects, officials in New Bedford are weighing in on the impact on the fishing industry.

SouthCoast Wind, formerly Mayflower Wind, is proposing a 2,400-megawatt offshore wind project located 30 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard.

New Bedford Port Authority Executive Director Gordon Carr is calling for SouthCoast Wind to follow Vineyard Wind’s lead in support of local fisheries programs and projects. Vineyard Wind is closing in on construction of its wind farm.

In a letter to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management that oversees the process, Carr responded to the request for comments about SouthCoast’s draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) outlining the impact of the project.

What kind of fisheries mitigation is needed?

He wrote that the primary concern with the process to date is the lack of definitive, enforceable measures relative to fisheries mitigation. New Bedford and other ports stand to benefit financially, but the impact on the fishing industry is a concern.

Carr said SouthCoast Wind should consider developing a separate fisheries innovation fund similar to Vineyard Wind’s mitigation plan to support local fisheries programs and projects.

“Similar to Vineyard Wind, SouthCoast Wind has deployed a robust fisheries liaison program staffed by professionals that truly know the commercial fishing industry,” he said.

He explained that Vineyard Wind is providing $1.75 million into a Fisheries Mitigation Fund to promote co-existence between offshore wind development and longstanding fishing activities. The funds could be used for research, innovation and promotion of local seafood.  

The New Bedford Port Authority is a member of an advisory panel established by Vineyard Wind.  

What areas will offshore wind impact?

Carr said it is essential to understand that the impact on the fishing industry isn’t necessarily limited to a particular geography near a wind energy area. He said it’s rare that the areas closest to a wind area would suffer the most impact.

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