Public Engagement Opportunities
Offshore wind developers schedule monthly port hours to address any questions, comments, and feedback on the RI/MA Wind Energy Areas from the fishing community. Please review each wind energy project’s website for the up-to-date information on port hours. December port hours are TBD.
Massachusetts Fisheries and Habitat Working Groups on Offshore Wind Energy
The Massachusetts Executive Offshore of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center convened two working groups for fisheries and marine habitat issues. The Fisheries Working Group on Offshore Wind Energy is comprised of commercial fishermen and representatives from different ports and sectors, recreational fishermen, scientists, and state and federal agencies. The Habitat Working Group on Offshore Wind Energy is comprised of scientists and technical experts from environmental organizations, academia, and state and federal agencies. Input from the working groups has directly resulted in accommodations to avoid important marine habitat, fishing grounds, and marine commerce routes in the designation of the wind energy lease areas. Working group meetings are generally convened at certain benchmark points in the wind energy commercial leasing process and are open to the public. For more information on past and upcoming meetings, visit the Fisheries Working Group on Offshore Wind Energy and Habitat Working Group on Offshore Wind Energy webpages.
Projects in Southern New England and DMF Engagement
The aim of this section is to inform fishermen, particularly from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, of the status of all active and proposed offshore wind energy projects in the Southern New England area and provide information on upcoming engagement opportunities. For more information on RI/MA offshore wind construction updates, port hours, fisheries liaison contact information, and DMF comment letters, please click on the link titled “Marine and Fisheries Resources for Southern New England Offshore Wind Energy Project Documents” for construction updates and below.
A map view that includes the status of offshore wind development in the U.S. Northeast Atlantic is available here and maintained by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management.
The WATERFRONT app was developed in 2023 by Ithaca Clean Energy and provides up-to-date construction activities for offshore wind projects. WATERFRONT also provides real-time mariner updates, two-way communication with fishermen and offshore wind developers/vessels, and allows you to pin the location of your gear with the option of sharing with marine stakeholders.
Planning and Leasing Activities in the Gulf of Maine
On October 20, BOEM released the draft Wind Energy Area (WEA) for the Gulf of Maine (Figure 1). The draft area encompasses a total area of 3,519,067 acres (a 64.11% reduction of the Call Area). The draft WEA has a combine capacity of over 40 Gigawatts (assuming a power density of 3 megawatts per sq. km). All areas currently identified in the draft WEA are deeper than 120m and at least 20nm offshore. Given the depth of the draft WEA, all potential offshore wind development will likely consist of floating technology. BOEM will finalize the WEA in the Gulf of Maine by February 2024 following request for comments (due on November 20). DMF has collaborated with the MA Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) and other EEA departments to draft a joint EEA comment letter to BOEM outlining areas and conflicts of most concern. The EEA comment letter provided input received from the Massachusetts fishing industry across several workshops and meetings, as well as subject matter experts from EEA agencies and offices. Once the WEAs are finalized, engagement and commenting opportunities will be available during the formation of bidding credits, lease stipulations, and lease characteristics.
Draft WEAs were established by BOEM from a spatial suitability model created by the NOAA Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NOAA-NCCOS). The spatial model incorporated five sub-models that represented different entities that would utilize the WEAs (National Security, Natural Resources, Fisheries, Industry, and Wind). Sub-models contained a variety of datasets from federal/state government, academic, industry, and wind sectors. The cumulative model averaged all spatial sub-models together to obtain relative suitability maps for delineating WEAs in the GOM across multiple scenarios. BOEM scheduled meetings in Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire with the fishing community in October-November 2023 to provide opportunities for comment, feedback, and incorporate on-the-water knowledge about fisheries interactions within the draft WEA. Summaries of the in-person fishing community meetings on the GOM are available here.
To learn more about BOEM’s commercial planning and leasing process for the Gulf of Maine, visit BOEM’s Gulf of Maine webpage.
In October 2021, the State of Maine submitted an unsolicited research lease application to construct an offshore wind energy array (Research Array) in the Gulf of Maine. The proposed Research Array would represent the nation’s first offshore floating wind research array and would include up to 12 floating wind turbine generators (WTGs) within a 10,000-acre lease area. To learn more about the proposed Research Array, visit BOEM’s State of Maine Research Lease Application webpage and the Maine Governor’s Energy Office webpage.
Fisheries Mitigation in Southern New England
Under the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Federal Consistency Review process, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts negotiates mitigation packages for commercial and recreational fishers impacted by the construction and operation of commercial-scale offshore wind projects. At this time, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) has entered into mitigation agreements with Vineyard Wind, LLC, South Fork Wind, LLC, New England Wind LLC, and Sunrise Wind LLC. These agreements are the result of extensive mitigation negotiations conducted between CZM, DMF, the EEA Fisheries Working Group on Offshore Wind, and project developers.
The Vineyard Wind Fisheries Innovation Fund was established under the Memorandum of Agreement between EEA and Vineyard Wind, LLC. The purpose of the Fund is to support programs and projects that ensure safe and profitable fishing continue as Vineyard Wind 1 and future offshore wind projects are developed in Northern Atlantic waters. The DMF Director chairs the Offshore Wind Fisheries Research, Innovation, and Science Advisory Panel to review and approve expenditures from the Vineyard Wind Fisheries Innovation Expendable Trust. See the below meeting materials and summaries from Fisheries Innovation Fund Advisory Panel meetings:
Vineyard Wind 1:
Offshore Wind and Fisheries Habitat Publications
BOEM is responsible for offshore renewable energy development in federal waters. To learn more about the status of activity pertaining to offshore renewable energy development in the different states, visit BOEM’s State Activities webpage.
NOAA Fisheries is the lead federal agency charged with stewardship of marine life. Offshore wind development on the Outer Continental Shelf affects NOAA Trust Resources including fisheries, protected species, seabirds, and marine habitats. To learn more about NOAA Fisheries’ role in offshore wind development, visit the Offshore Wind Energy Development in New England/Mid-Atlantic Waters webpage.
The Mid-Atlantic and New England Fishery Management Councils, working with NOAA Fisheries, collaboratively developed a webpage to provide information and resources that may be relevant to offshore wind energy development and fisheries. For more information on the Councils’ involvement in, and comments on, wind energy development activities, visit the Offshore Wind in the Northeast Region webpage.
The Responsible Offshore Science Alliance (ROSA) is a nonprofit organization that seeks to advance regional research and monitoring of fisheries and offshore wind interactions through collaboration and cooperation. For more information about ROSA’s mission, administration, and resources, visit the ROSA Science webpage.
The Regional Wildlife Science Collaborative for Offshore Wind (RWSC) was cooperatively established and is led by federal agencies, states, NGOs, and the offshore wind industry to support research and monitoring on wildlife and offshore wind. To learn more about RWSC activities, visit the RWSC webpage.
The Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA) is a nonprofit organization that seeks to directly collaborate with federal agencies, regional fisheries management councils, states, offshore developers, scientific experts, non-profits, fisheries-driven groups, and others to coordinate science and policy approaches to managing offshore wind development of the Outer Continental Shelf that aims to minimize conflicts with current existing traditional and historical fishing. For more information about RODA’s mission and their ongoing activities, visit the RODA webpage.
The Northeast Ocean Data portal provides updates on the status of offshore wind projects and provides interactive maps of each lease area where a project is located. The Northeast Ocean Data Portal is operated by the Northeast Regional Ocean Council. For more information, visit the Northeast Ocean Data Portal Webpage.
Published in 2023 by NOAA Fisheries, BOEM, and RODA, the Synthesis of the Science (SoS) report synthesizes and compiled current and past research on the interactions of offshore wind, fisheries, and marine ecosystems across five topics. The topics identified for consideration in relations to offshore wind: ecosystem effects, fisheries socioeconomics, fisheries management and data collection, methods and approaches, and regional science planning. Additionally, SoS facilitates the current identification of knowledge gaps of offshore wind science. You can download the SoS report here.
For more information on how state agencies and working groups along the Atlantic coast are engaging in offshore wind development on the Outer Continental Shelf, visit the following webpages: