Fisheries Compensation

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On the Line: Reforming OCSLA as a Mechanism for Fisheries Compensation in the Offshore Wind Era. With offshore wind power emerging as a dominant domestic energy source in the United States, existing ocean users, including the commercial fishing industry, must adapt to the industrial changes in the marine landscape. Currently, there are some impact minimization efforts being instituted in an attempt to mitigation potential conflicts between the commercial fishing industry and the construction and operation of offshore wind farms, one of which includes compensating the fishing industry for damage to gear and loss of historical fishing grounds. The coastal states have requested a new approach that is more unified, transparent, and efficient. Therefore, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) must be amended to reflect the recent implementation of offshore wind farms.

Eleven East Coast states (the States) have been advancing an initiative to establish a regional fund administrator for fisheries compensatory mitigation which would provide financial compensation for economic loss from offshore wind development off the Atlantic Coast. In February 2024, NYSERDA, through a Request for Proposals, sought a qualified entity to serve as the Regional Fund Administrator to design and develop an offshore wind energy-related comprehensive fisheries compensatory mitigation fund and associated claims processes to serve states, the fishing community, and offshore wind developers working on projects in the water along the East Coast of the United States. Proposals were due by March 20, 2024

Recognizing the importance of sustaining a vibrant fishing community that can coexist and thrive alongside offshore wind energy development, the States have released a Request for Information (RFI) aimed at receiving input from impacted members of the fishing industry, offshore wind developers, corporate and financial management entities, as well as interested members of the public, to inform efforts to establish a regional fisheries compensatory mitigation fund administrator. Comments to the RFI were due by February 7, 2023 and are summarized here

The original Scoping Document – on which the RFI was based and that was originally released on December 2022 – has been updated based on the feedback received via the RFI. The Final Scoping Document and Cover Letter were released on April 13, 2023.

Nine Atlantic Coast States Scoping Document: Framework for Establishing a Regional Fisheries Compensation Fund Administrator for Potential Impacts to the Fishing Community from Offshore Wind Energy Development. On December 12, 2022, nine Atlantic Coast States (the States) of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia have begun working together to implement a consistent regional approach for administration of financial development paid by developers to address adverse effects of offshore wind energy development on the Atlantic Coast. These States are requesting input from members of the commercial and for-hire recreational fishing industry, renewable energy industry, corporate and financial management, interested members of the public and others directly involved with offshore wind energy sitting and development to help design an effective an efficient way to accomplish this shared objective.

BOEM and NOAA Announce Joint Strategy for Fisheries Surveys. On December 5, 2022, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries announced a joint strategy to address potential impacts of offshore wind energy development on NOAA Fisheries’ scientific surveys. 

Cable Routeing Considerations & Constraints for Developers. As the offshore wind industry continues to grow, a better understanding of key considerations and constraints associated with the installation and maintenance of wind farm export and inter-array cables is needed to facilitate safe access to the site for construction and maintenance operations, particularly taking into account other cables and assets already on the sea floor.

Mitigation Guidance Meeting Summary. On July 12, 2022, a virtual meeting was held to provide a forum for fishing representatives from CT, NJ, NY, and VA and state working groups to discuss, explore and coordinate their views and comments on BOEM’s Draft Fisheries Mitigation Guidance Document.

Reducing or Avoiding Impacts of Offshore Wind Energy on Fisheries. BOEM, in consultation with NMFS and affected coastal states, will be holding meetings to discuss draft guidance for ways to mitigate impacts from offshore wind projects on commercial and recreational fisheries and fishing. The Draft Fisheries Mitigation Guidance is being shared with the public for review and input for a 60-day comment period.

NYSERDA Fisheries Compensation Overview – Preliminary Draft, Rev. 1. An overview and summary of existing fisheries compensation within the offshore wind industry and other marine industries. While there is currently no overarching regulatory mechanism for compensation, some states have already required developers to establish compensatory funds to offset potential impacts to the commercial fishing industry, or to fund research programs aimed at better understanding those potential impacts. This report is not intended to be a formal framework or recommendation. Since the former iteration of this report, eight states requested the development of a federal-level compensation framework to be developed by BOEM and BOEM has begun the planning process for addressing fisheries compensation guidance (Joint Governors Letter 2021; BOEM 2021), with draft guidance expected from BOEM in 2022.

Regional State Letter to BOEM Regarding Fisheries Compensation. A group of regional state partners has submitted a letter to BOEM with regard to fisheries compensation efforts to encourage the development and advancement of a fair, equitable, and transparent process. These states include Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Virginia. The States have identified topics for continued discussion with BOEM regarding its development of an efficient and effective compensatory fisheries mitigation framework. The States believe that these foundational topics require full consideration and discussion with BOEM, NOAA, and other federal agencies, as well as the fishing industry and offshore wind developers, in order to develop mutual understanding and agreement on a mitigation framework that will provide equity and certainty for affected fishing communities, state and federal agencies, and the offshore wind industry.

RODA Impact Fees Report. Currently there is no consistent agreed upon roadmap as to how impact fees will be authorized, valuated, or allocated for offshore wind projects. This report is intended to inform these efforts and establish an equitable process to alleviate losses.

Vineyard Wind Compensatory Mitigation. An overview of compensatory mitigation agreements in-place for the Vineyard Wind Project.

South Fork Wind Farm, Environmental Mitigation and Monitoring Measures. This document constitutes the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) and the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) joint record of decision (ROD) for the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) prepared for the South Fork Wind Farm and South Fork Export Cable Project (Project) Construction and Operations Plan (COP). Appendix A of this document covers the Environmental Mitigation and Monitoring Measures (Terms And Conditions) included as part of the ROD.

Request for Information on Reducing or Avoiding Impacts of Offshore Wind Energy. BOEM, working with the National Marine Fisheries Service and affected coastal states, is developing guidance to ensure fair, equitable, and predictable methodologies for mitigating impacts of offshore renewable energy projects.  On November 23, 2021, BOEM published a “Request for Information” to obtain input from the public, especially the fishing community, on avoiding, minimizing and, if needed, compensating for impacts from offshore wind energy projects to commercial and recreational fisheries.  The comment period on the Request for Information closed on January 7, 2022. Comments can be viewed here: