A fishing industry coalition dealing with offshore wind energy development has launched a West Coast venture, as a first step toward giving Pacific fishermen more voice in how those projects can be compatible with seafood production.

The Responsible Offshore Development Alliance announced it created a new Pacific Advisory Committee, to address Pacific fishermen’s “significant concern over the lack of communication and collaboration necessary to inform coexistence among ocean users.”

The new effort aims to “improve science and policy approaches to development, while also increasing and improving communication to help strengthen ties between Pacific fishermen and fishing communities across the country,” the alliance said in a statement Thursday.

The new committee includes fisheries leaders from California and Oregon:

  •   Hugh Link and Tim Novotny, Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission
  •   Mike Okoniewski, Pacific Seafood Group
  •   Noah Oppenheim, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations
  •  Peter Flournoy, International Law Offices of San Diego
  •  Mike Conroy, West Coast Fisheries Consultants

The alliance originally grew out of efforts by East Coast scallop fishermen and others to get a seat at the table as the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management began preparing to issue offshore leases for wind energy development. With more than a dozen projects now in various stages of planning off the East Coast, the alliance has been advocating for fishermen’s concerns and working to bring them together with developers, government regulators and scientists to identify pressing policy and research needs.

On the West Coast, that process is still in the early stages, with BOEM having identified three “call areas” off California to gauge potential interest from developers. The agency says sthe trongest wind speeds are found off the state’s North Coast, where BOEM has marked out the Humboldt Call Area for possible development.

Two others on the California Central Coast are Morro Bay and Diablo Canyon, and the agency is in early stages of evaluating potential areas off Oregon. Unlike the proposed East Coast turbine arrays on the shallow outer continental shelf, deeper Pacific waters have developers looking toward anchored floating turbine designs.

Associate Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been a field editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for almost 25 years. 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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