The Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA), a group representing fishermen from Maine to North Carolina formed specifically to interact with offshore wind companies, and developer Orsted U.S. Offshore Wind (formerly Deepwater Wind) said the partnership is the first-of-its-kind.
As development of offshore wind farms is underway off of Rhode Island and Massachusetts’ coasts, commercial fishermen have been in talks with developers to figure out the best way to build wind farms that sustain the fishing industry.
However, RODA and Orsted feel the way the industries have been engaging with one another has been inefficient.
"The fishermen are being pulled in a million directions and we’re very excited to have a more structured approach where we can get that input and give it back to the developers as well as to the government," Annie Hawkins, executive director of RODA, said.
Jeff Grybowski, Co-CEO of Orsted U.S. Offshore Wind, agreed the new partnership will make it easier for the industries to communicate.
"It can often be difficult for a developer to find the right people to talk to because obviously fishermen are, they're small businesses and some of them are big businesses, but there are lots of different people," Grybowski said.
Hawkins added the goal is to have fewer, more productive meetings, however any recommendations that come out of them are nonbinding.
Commercial fishermen have raised multiple concerns about offshore wind farms, such as the layout of the turbines affecting their access to fishing grounds and ability to safely return to shore, and spinning turbines interfering with their radar navigation.
They've been butting heads over similar issues for months with another offshore wind company, Vineyard Wind, who's developing a wind farm south of Martha's Vineyard.