Vineyard Wind today formally endorsed a transit corridor plan for fishing vessels in federal waters off the coast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island that has been previously supported by fishermen from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Long Island, NY, as well as the U.S. Coast Guard.
“The fishing industry has placed a significant amount of time and energy into developing a transit corridor plan that works for them,” said Erich Stephens, Chief Development Officer for Vineyard Wind. “Our team appreciates the work that the fishermen have done to address this and other important concerns. Wind developers must recognize the importance of locating transit lanes through their lease areas when those plans will accommodate the fishermen who work out of ports like Point Judith in Rhode Island and Montauk on Long Island.”
The transit corridor plan that Vineyard Wind is endorsing was developed at fishing working group meetings held in September and October in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Representatives of the Coast Guard and the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management have written in support of this same corridor plan.
By formally announcing its support for fishery transit lanes that are sited directly through the middle of Vineyard Wind’s lease area, the company hopes to accommodate fishermen based in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and the Long Island area who need to transit the length of the wind areas to reach fishing grounds south and east of Cape Cod. The transit plan endorsed by Vineyard Wind provides for such transit.
As the first developer to endorse the plan, Vineyard Wind calls on other current and future wind developers with lease areas offshore of Rhode Island and Massachusetts to back the proposed fishery transit corridor plan. To be effective, all wind lease holders in the wind energy areas must adopt a coherent plan.
At a recent meeting of fishermen, developers, and federal agencies alternative plans were discussed but no new consensus was achieved and so Vineyard Wind is formally endorsing the plan that continues to be supported by fishermen throughout the region.
The need for formal fishery transit lanes in the wind energy area is heightened by the pending auction of additional wind leases on Thursday, December 13th. The new lease areas lie to the east of Vineyard Wind’s lease while to the west; Ørsted U.S. Offshore Wind and Eversource hold wind leases to the west.
In addition to endorsing the corridor plan, Vineyard Wind recently selected a 9.5MW turbine, the largest turbine commercially available, providing the project some flexibility with respect to the spacing and location of turbines. Vineyard Wind will continue to work with fishermen to determine how best to utilize this flexibility, taking into account both fishing within the turbine area and transiting through the area.