New Bedford Port Authority to become fisheries rep to offshore wind

NEW BEDFORD — The New Bedford Port Authority has reached an agreement with all offshore wind developers operating in the Massachusetts/Rhode Island market to serve as the designated Fisheries Representative of the commercial fishing industry to each of the development companies, according to a news release.

Under federal guidelines issued by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management offshore wind developers must establish a fisheries representative to be the fishing community’s primary point of contact for communicating project-related concerns to the developer.

“The NBPA has been contracted by the developers to represent the interests of commercial fishermen, and to be a conduit of information between the developers and the commercial fishing industry as offshore wind farms are developed on the Outer Continental Shelf,” said Port Authority Director Ed Anthes-Washburn in a statement. “We’re very excited to have all three developers on board for this timely announcement. Adequate and sustained engagement with the fishing industry will translate into more conciliatory communications and interactions with fishing communities up and down the eastern seaboard as the offshore wind industry begins in the United States.”

In this role, the Port Authority will act as a central clearinghouse of information, convene stakeholders, facilitate dialogue between fishermen and respective developers, and advocate for ways to mitigate impacts of wind projects on commercial fishermen, according to the release. The Port Authority will also work with state and federal agencies to adopt policies and regulations needed to ensure the viability of commercial fishing operations.

“As the epicenter of commercial fishing in the Northwest Atlantic, New Bedford is the most logical place for the offshore wind industry to interface with fishermen,” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, who also serves as chair of the NBPA, in a statement. “The New Bedford Port Authority is a key organization to successfully facilitate the development of the offshore wind industry within a vibrant commercial fishing community.”