First U.S. Offshore Wind Developer Acts on Fishing Gear

Credit: Deepwater Wind
Credit: Deepwater Wind

Published Jul 16, 2018 2:00 AM by The Maritime Executive

U.S. offshore wind developer Deepwater Wind has adopted a first-of-its-kind procedure designed to prevent impacts to commercial fishing gear from its activities. 

Deepwater Wind's Block Island Wind Farm is America’s first offshore wind farm, and the company is currently in active development on utility-scale wind farms to serve Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Maryland.

The procedure was developed in close coordination with the commercial fishing industry and is based off extensive feedback from fishermen in ports up and down the Atlantic coast. Deepwater Wind believes that keeping fishermen informed is the key to preventing damage to fishing gear.

“We know that offshore wind and all other ocean users can coexist – we see that happening every day at the Block Island Wind Farm. We are committed to working with the commercial fishing industry and ironing out our differences. We want to be good neighbors out there,” said Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski. “We’re taking this important step because it’s the right thing to do.”

The procedure’s key focus is on providing frequent updates on offshore activities to fishermen, via Deepwater Wind fisheries liaisons and a team of fisheries representatives based in regional ports, as well as through online updates for mariners and twice-daily updates on VHF channels.

While Deepwater Wind expects there will be only limited impacts on fishing gear from offshore wind activities, the company has included a process for gear-loss/damage claims should they occur. Beth Casoni, executive director of the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, said: “We are hopeful these won’t be needed and with the multiple notices to mariners and ads in the MLA newspaper, our members are actively engaged in the development of offshore wind in Southern New England.”

Deepwater Wind employs a 50-year veteran commercial fisherman as its liaison to the East Coast fishing fleet, as well as fisheries representatives in the fishing ports of New Bedford, Point Judith and Montauk. The company’s website posts daily bulletins for mariners with project information and notice of any vessels or construction activities at-sea.

Block Island Wind Farm 

Located approximately three miles south east of Block Island, Rhode Island, the Block Island Wind Farm consists of five, six megawatt offshore wind turbines, a submarine cable connecting the turbines, and a submarine cable from the northernmost turbine to an interconnection point on Block Island. The construction of the five turbines and the transmission cables was completed in 2016. 

Skipjack Wind Farm

The Skipjack Wind Farm is an offshore wind farm planned for federal waters off the coast of Delaware and Maryland. It will consist of wind turbines, an offshore substation, and subsea transmission system to shore. Marine survey activities are scheduled to begin in Summer 2018. Marine construction is planned to start in 2022.

South Fork Wind Farm

The South Fork Wind Farm is a planned offshore wind farm located 30 miles east of Montauk that will consist of approximately 15 wind turbines and a subsea transmission system that will deliver energy to East Hampton, NY. Marine survey activities are scheduled to begin in Summer 2017. Marine construction is planned to start 2021.