Offshore wind development company Vineyard Wind has entered into a collaborative agreement with the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) to plan and conduct pre- and post-construction assessments of fisheries and associated ecological conditions.
“The fishing industry has raised important questions about the impacts of offshore wind development on the marine environment and on sea life, and a comprehensive research effort is needed to provide answers and identify possible solutions,” says Erich Stephens, chief development officer with Vineyard Wind. “Our goal in collaborating with the School for Marine Science and Technology is to use our project, which we expect to be the first large-scale offshore wind project in the U.S., to begin to establish a robust body of knowledge that will benefit the American offshore wind industry and the fishing community for decades to come.”
Steven Lohrenz, dean of SMAST, adds, “This assessment will help answer questions and provide information that can further the public understanding of potential impacts of offshore wind development and possible means of mitigation of any such impacts. The information would then be available to help inform future permitting and public policy decisions.”
Under the terms of the collaboration, SMAST staff will undertake a scoping exercise by soliciting input from fisheries’ representatives, policymakers, regulators and academics beginning this spring. The phase includes planning for assessment schedules, budgets and objectives.
According to the partners, the objective of this scoping exercise is to identify the research questions most relevant and important for understanding how offshore wind and the fishing industry can grow alongside each other in the years to come. Vineyard Wind has provided an initial funding commitment to jump-start the scoping process.
Vineyard Wind is seeking to build the U.S.’ first large-scale offshore wind energy project, to be located 14 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. Vineyard Wind, based in New Bedford, Mass., is 50% owned by funds of Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and 50% by Avangrid Renewables.