New England projects fish for sector support via new layout

The five companies backing New England's forthcoming offshore wind farms have submitted a proposal to increase the distance between turbines in consideration of the fishing industry, which, however, says the new plan would in fact remove transit routes and stifle collection of scallops and squid.

Det nye layout er allerede blevet forkastet af en række fiskere. Photo: Illustration: Vineyard Wind

The five companies behind New England's offshore wind projects have submitted a joint, uniform site layout proposal in an attempt to quiet the discontented local fishing industry, which in the late summer of this year pressured authorities to withhold environmental licenses.

Equinor, Mayflower Wind, Ørsted, Eversource and Vineyard Wind now hope the new layout will satisfy local fisheries.

"This uniform layout is consistent with the requests of the region’s fisheries industry and other maritime users," the developers write in a joint statement.

The new proposal seeks to secure transit corridors spanning one nautical mile (1.85 km) in north-south and east-west arrays. Northwest-southeast and southwest-northeast columns would be spaced by 0.7 nautical miles.

Photo: Brev til kystvagten fra de fem selskaber

All in all, the new layout would entail establishing 231 sailing lanes traversing the wind farms in four directions. The five companies also note that the vast majority of other maritime transportation doesn't utilize the area and that the corridors will enable transit for most smaller vessels, while the larger ships normally bypass the zone anyway.

We were not consulted on this proposal, have not supported this proposal in the past, and do not support it now.

Sector lobby Fisheries Survival Fund

The developers have now sent their layout to the US Coast Guard and hope that it will be approved as to thereby clear the path for environmental permits. The five firms also emphasize that their plan allows space for emergency maneuvers, even for fully equipped fishing vessels, as well as ensuring safe passage.

Scallops and squid

Regional fisheries disagree, and scallop operators have already rejected the plan.

"Simply put, we were not consulted on this proposal, have not supported this proposal in the past, and do not support it now," writes industry group Fisheries Survival Fund in a statement, as cited by sector National Fisherman.

"One nautical mile spacing between turbines neither allows for safe transit nor viable fishing, at least from the scallop fishery’s perspective," the group added.

Nor are trawlers pleased. Meghan Lapp, spokesperson for Seafreeze Limited, a Rhode-Island-based trawler company, tells east coast radio show WCAI that four nautical miles would be necessary for fishing boats to navigate safely.

"It removes really the potential for a lot of transit. The squid industry does not expect to be able to fish in the wind farm, but people were hoping for transit lanes for the wind farm to get through to other places, which now has basically been taken away from them," Lapp says.

English Edit: Daniel Frank Christensen

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