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Fishing Revenue Dispute Again Delays Offshore Wind Review Process

A disagreement over fishing revenue has again delayed the review process of a proposed offshore wind farm south of Martha’s Vineyard.

The Coastal Resources Management Council has been evaluating developer Vineyard Wind’s project to see if it’s consistent with a state program meant to protect coastal resources and coastal users, like fishermen.

However, after weeks of negotiating, the CRMC’s Fishermen Advisory Board and Vineyard Wind haven’t agreed on a compensation package that would make up for the fishermen’s lost revenue.

So the CRMC and Vineyard Wind both agreed to extend the deadline for the council's final decision on the project from Feb. 19 to March 1.

Tricia Jedele, the board's attorney, said the developer's offer to pay fishermen $6.2 million over 30 years doesn't take into account the value of their shoreside businesses, increased safety risks, or transiting costs between turbines.

"It’s essentially a number that they’re using to limit their own liability and to limit their liability going forward for other projects that they intend to build," Jedele said.

Jedele added paying fishermen over a 30-year time frame isn't as good as paying them cash up front.  

"You’re essentially asking Rhode Island commercial fishermen to become the creditors of that company, and if that company defaults on those payments, partially or in whole, there’s no remedy for the Rhode Island fishermen," she said.  

However, Vineyard Wind defended their compensation package in a statement, saying it does include "direct loss of fishing revenue, life safety, navigational concerns, and other issues raised by the fishing community."

"Vineyard Wind has offered this mitigation in good faith to ensure that Rhode Island’s fishermen are able to safely operate and grow side-by-side with our offshore wind project," the company said.

Federal lawmakers are hosting public meetings in New Bedford Thursday and in Narragansett Friday to get input on potential environmental impacts of the proposed project.

Vineyard Wind plans to build a wind farm with more than 80 turbines south of Martha’s Vineyard. The project would be big enough to power 400,000 homes in Massachusetts.

Boats docked at the Port of New Bedford.
Boats docked at the Port of New Bedford.