US seafood leaders, Orsted agree to collaborate on wind energy projects

Published on
January 17, 2019

A consortium of seafood industry trade groups and businesses announced on Thursday, 17 January a first-ever agreement with an energy company to foster collaboration between commercial fishing interests and offshore wind developers.

The pact between the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance and Ørsted U.S. Offshore Wind creates a task force with members of both parties. Currently, the sides have begun discussing such issues as where boats can maneuver and where energy companies will place turbines. They are encouraging other stakeholders to join the conversation as well.

RODA was created in June 2018 with the intent of protecting the commercial seafood industry’s interests during the ongoing discussions regarding offshore wind developments.

Anne Hawkins, RODA’s executive director, told SeafoodSource the two parties had been engaged in informal talks for some time and decided to establish a formal arrangement. 

“We’re still working on what’s going to provide the most benefit with both industries,” said Hawkins, who noted RODA wants to maximize time at sea for fishermen but still make sure they have a chance to meet with their wind energy counterparts and learn about the latest developments.

Discussions with other wind industry companies and stakeholders continue, she added.

“We are proud to be the first offshore wind developer to partner with RODA, which is an important part to the future of offshore wind,” Ørsted U.S. Offshore Wind and President of Ørsted North America CEO Thomas Brostrøm said in a release. “The fishing community must be considered as offshore wind development continues in the U.S. Through this partnership, we will be able to share our concerns in a productive way and develop practical solutions as we all seek to coexist and thrive for a better tomorrow.”

According to the company’s website, Ørsted is working on a couple of wind power projects in U.S. waters.

In Massachusetts, the company is working with Eversource to build Bay State Wind, a project 15 miles off the Martha’s Vineyard coast that could produce up to 2,000 megawatts of electricity. In New Jersey, it owns a lease for a large wind farm 10 miles off the coast near Atlantic City that could create more than 1,000 megawatts and provide energy for 500,000 homes.

Ørsted is also working with Dominion Energy in Virginia to build two turbines the utility provider will manage off the Virginia Beach coast.

Thursday’s announcement comes at a time when American fishermen have expressed concerns about the development of offshore wind farms and the impact those turbines will have on their fishing grounds. Last month, U.S. senators from Massachusetts and Rhode Island wrote a letter to the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s acting director encouraging his agency to develop policies that “minimize conflicts” between offshore wind and the seafood industry.

“It is extremely vital that our nation’s fishermen are heard when offshore wind projects are being developed,” RODA Chairman and Director of Sustainability at Atlantic Capes Fisheries Peter Hughes said in a release. “Ørsted has made it clear that they want to be partners with the fishing industry, and we are optimistic that our work with them will set a standard ensuring that fishermen have direct input into wind farm designs and ensuring that their concerns are fully embraced by developers.”

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