RODA Receives NMFS Grant to Convene State of the Science Symposium on Fishing and Offshore Wind Interactions

WASHINGTON, DC / ACCESSWIRE / June 10, 2020 / The Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA) has received a $150,000 grant from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to aggregate existing knowledge, then convene a first-of-its-kind symposium on the current science regarding fisheries and offshore wind interactions. The project, “Understanding the State of the Science,” will advance agency, fishing industry, offshore wind energy developer, and public understanding of existing research on interactions between the two industries.

“We are thrilled about the opportunity to design a forum that will bring together everything we know, and don’t know, about how fisheries and offshore wind energy development interact,” said Annie Hawkins, RODA’s Executive Director. “Fishermen provide a wealth of knowledge and expertise, and many are involved in research and science efforts. This project is a great opportunity for their participation in informing a strong research and science agenda.”

The project consists of two parts. First, RODA will develop a much-needed summary of scientific knowledge and current research and monitoring efforts. Given the rapid growth and large scope of offshore wind development in the U.S., many fishing associations, academic institutions, federal and state agencies, offshore wind developers, and others have been conducting research on the effects of offshore wind development. This part of the project results in a new resource for understanding the knowledge gaps and most important questions for further research.

Second, RODA will convene a “state of the science” symposium and workshop jointly with NMFS and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), as well as state, academic, and private and public sector science experts. At these meetings, participants will identify research and monitoring needs that the Responsible Offshore Science Alliance (ROSA) can use to develop its work.

ROSA is an independent organization that works collaboratively to advance regional research and monitoring of fisheries and offshore wind interactions in federal waters. It is intended to fill the need for broad-scale coordination on prioritizing work and on information sharing.

“Much of the work on offshore wind is occurring on a development-by-development, state-by-state basis. Yet the science and management of our fisheries, marine mammals, and marine endangered species occur at a regional-scale – North Carolina to Maine,” said Jon Hare, director of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center. “Therefore, I am excited to be able to work with RODA and BOEM to support the state-of-the-science symposium with the goal of developing a regional science plan.”

This project is a key step toward jointly building a regional fisheries and offshore science agenda. Participants in the project will include fishermen, fishing industry representatives, NMFS, BOEM, and ROSA experts, wind energy developers, relevant federal fishery management councils, states, and other expert scientists from the U.S. and Europe. The Consensus Building Institute will provide expert facilitation and coordination for the symposium. The intent is to reduce redundancies, identify knowledge gaps, and solidify opportunities for future increased coordination. Partners can then use workshop outcomes to collaborate further, refining regional science and monitoring agendas.

Examples of topics to be covered by the state of the science symposium include:

  • Physical oceanographic factors: the Mid-Atlantic Cold Pool, currents and vertical mixing, scour and sedimentation, marine winds, waves, coastal upwelling;
  • Ecosystem effects: larval dispersal, recruitment, spawning, electromagnetic fields, migration corridors, noise and vibrations, species shifts, invasive species and colonization, entanglement, benthic habitat disruption;
  • Fisheries: displacement of effort, displacement of species, increased competition for grounds, safety; and
  • Floating wind technology effects: specific effects of floating wind platforms on fishing effort and biological processes.

Funding for this project was made available through NMFS’ Broad Agency Announcement award process, and advances a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed in March 2019. This ten-year MOU among RODA, NMFS, and BOEM allows the groups to collaborate on the science, research, monitoring, and process of offshore wind energy development on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf. More broadly, the project will help local and regional fishing interests become better involved in the offshore wind development process, and ensure that the interests and concerns of commercial fishermen are communicated effectively.

RODA is a membership-based coalition of fishing-related companies and associations committed to improving the compatibility of new offshore development with their businesses. RODA’s approximately 170 members represent every Atlantic coastal state from North Carolina to Maine, and Pacific coast members in California, Oregon and Washington.

Bob Vanasse

SOURCE: Responsible Offshore Development Alliance

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