Addressing Interactions between Fisheries and Offshore Wind Development: The Block Island Wind Farm

Last modified: 
December 14, 2019 - 10:22am
This item is included as part of the SeaPlan Archives.
SeaPlan Archive Category: Cross-cutting
SeaPlan Archive Project: Addressing Interactions between Commercial Fisheries and Offshore Wind Development: The Block Island Wind Farm
Type: Report
Year of publication: 2016
Date published: 05/2016
Authors: Andrew Lipsky, Stephanie Moura, Aileen Kenney, Rick Bellavance
Publishing institution: SeaPlan
City: Boston, Massachusetts
Pages: 12 pp.

The Block Island Wind Farm (BIWF) is a 30-megawatt offshore wind farm located in Rhode Island waters approximately three miles southeast of Block Island. The BIWF consists of five offshore wind turbine generators and a submarine cable to Block Island. Deepwater Wind Block Island, LLC (DWBI), sited the BIWF within the Renewable Energy Zone established by the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) through a well described comprehensive marine spatial planning process: the Ocean Special Area Management Plan (OSAMP; CRMC 2010). Construction of the BIWF began in 2015 and is scheduled for completion in 2016. When fully installed, the BIWF will generate over 125,000 megawatt hours of power annually, enough to satisfy 17,200 Rhode Island households (Tetra Tech 2012). Associated with the BIWF is the “sea2shore: The Renewable Link” (sea2shore; previously known as the “Block Island Transmission System”), a bi-directional cable system that will connect Block Island to the mainland electric grid for the first time.

Building off of work conducted as part of the OSAMP, DWBI made it a priority early in the project planning process to work with the commercial fishing industry, including recreational charter and party boat industries, to better understand potential impacts, minimize impacts, and develop mitigation measures. Starting in 2012, the DWBI team designed and initiated an outreach, impact minimization, and mitigation effort, the implementation of which is ongoing. Highlights of this effort include the following:

  • Open meetings with the fishing community

  • Meetings with the CRMC Fisheries Advisory Board (FAB)

  • Meeting with individual fishing groups to discuss ways to avoid and minimize impact

  • Establishment of fisheries and science liaisons

  • An outreach and engagement process to inventory and evaluate potential fishery and fishing impacts

  • Long-term collaborative groundfish and lobster studies with fishermen before, during, and after wind farm construction

  • Development of a unique mitigation framework to address potential impacts

  • A mitigation package that includes an innovative marketing campaign to promote charter and party boat fishing in Rhode Island and funding of an Executive Director of the Commercial Fisheries Center of Rhode Island

  • A process to compensate fishermen impacted by closure of an area during foundation installation

This paper summarizes the fisheries outreach program and highlights strategies that were effective in minimizing conflict and establishing a collaborative relationship between DWBI and Rhode Island commercial and recreational fishing communities. As DWBI completes the BIWF construction and moves into the operations phase, lessons learned from the BIWF engagement model, mitigation framework, and collaborative data collection will be helpful to inform future offshore wind developments in the United States. 

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