The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is working with coastal states to come up with plans for potentially compensating fishermen for lost fishing grounds and other negative effects of developing offshore wind turbine arrays.

Fishing industry advocates are pushing anew to get fishermen deeply involved now to minimize impacts from sweeping plans to rapidly develop a U.S. offshore wind industry — and hoping to limit damage to the U.S. food supply.

The government’s drive toward creating more offshore wind energy areas in the New York Bight is looking like a repeat of its mistakes in planning southern New England projects and needs to be braked, fishermen said at an Aug. 6 meeting in New Bedford, Mass.

“It’s going to be responsible for the destruction of a centuries-old industry that’s only been feeding people,” Bonnie Brady, executive director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, told officials of the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

“If you really want to do that right thing, stop everything” until wind energy areas can be better assessed to accommodate power generation while maintaining fisheries, said Brady.

Speaking with fishermen via a Zoom online link, BOEM Director Amanda Lefton opened the meeting by saying the agency has learned from experience and is working to engage better with the fishing industry and head off conflicts.

“We have to improve our engagement with the fishing industry,” said Lefton. “We are doing our best to make changes.”

Some changes are coming in how BOEM will review plans for the New York Bight — the arm of the Atlantic between Long Island and New Jersey, adjacent to the voracious New York regional energy market and already targeted for major offshore wind projects.

Future new leasing will include requirements for wind developers to report more frequently and be more accountable for how they will deal with issues of environmental impact and effects on fishermen and other maritime users, BOEM officials said.

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Associate Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for more than 30 years and a 25-year field editor for National Fisherman before joining our Commercial Marine editorial staff in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.

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