Gabrielle Mannino

Vineyard Wind and R.I. strike bargain

R.I. Fishery Advisory Board chairman doesn’t like settlement.

Vineyard Wind recently announced a $16.7 million deal with the Rhode Island Fisheries Advisory Board. The deal was made on behalf of Rhode Island fishermen who ply the waters where a farm of 84 wind turbines is slated to built by Vineyard Wind. The farm will be situated about 14 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard.

“The package agreed to today by the [Rhode Island Fisheries Advisory Board] includes $12.5 million in funding to a trust fund that would be managed by Rhode Island fishermen for the purpose of ensuring safe and effective fishing in and around Vineyard Wind’s project area and future wind farms generally,” a release states.  “Vineyard Wind will pay $2.5 million per year for five years into this fund. In addition to this fishermen-directed fund of $12.5 million, a separate fund totaling $4.2 million would be established to compensate for any direct impacts to Rhode Island fishermen or other sectors of the Rhode Island fishing industry.”

“I just think it was a [expletive] deal for the industry, but it’s the deal that we got,” Newport, R.I. lobsterman Lanny Dellinger, chairman of the Rhode Island Fisheries Advisory Board, told The Times.

“I just don’t think the negotiations were set up fairly,” he said. Dellinger said that he and his fellow advisory board members were pressured with unreasonable timelines and forced to negotiate with an entity backed by a multibillion dollar energy company, all the while running their own small businesses without any sort of compensation or help to offset the time and energy they spent.

Dellinger said the board felt it had to take the deal because, he said, Vineyard Wind could have appealed to the federal government, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) for a lesser sum or no compensation at all.

“We were between a rock and a hard place,” he said. “No other way to put it.”

Richard Fuka, Rhode Island Fishermen’s Alliance president, said squid fishermen, who comprise the most lucrative part of the Rhode Island fishing industry, weren’t represented on the board and were therefore cut out of negotiations. Read full article.