All nine members of Rhode Island’s fishermen’s advisory council have resigned effective Sept. 1, saying the US state’s Coastal Resources Management Board is so committed to offshore wind energy development that it dismisses the council’s concerns about the impacts of fisheries and the environment.
“It has become abundantly clear that Rhode Island CRMC has made offshore wind developers its top priority regardless of Ocean SAMP requirements, cost to the environment, or impacts on the Rhode Island fishing industry,” said the Board of Directors. Letter to Jeff Willis, Executive Director of the Coastal Resources Management Council. “The FAB members have collectively invested and sacrificed thousands of hours of our own time, our own expense, and provided CRMC with expertise, data, science, research and experience. But we will not waste our time anymore.”
The State’s Area Management Plan (SAMP) is a regulatory tool enabled by the Coastal Area Management Act, a federal law passed in the 1970s that gives states a say in development in federal waters. Advisory board members said the state should be more aggressive in using this power to control how the Federal Office of Marine Energy Administration and wind companies plan offshore wind projects.
“We as members of the FAB believe that the purpose of the FAB/CRMC review is to ensure that offshore wind projects comply with the requirements and constraints of Ocean SAMP. We were wrong,” the advisory board members wrote. “Ocean SAMP has been reduced to political charade, and we We refuse to give it any further credibility by our presence.”
The letter was signed by Advisory Board Chair Lanny Dillinger, along with members Christopher Brown, Michael Marchetti, Greg Matronas, Chris Lee, Brian Thibault, Megan Lapp, Rich Hettinger, and Rick Bellavance.
Board members said the board’s decisions overlooked “industrial construction and artisanal tillage of moraine in violation of Ocean SAMP’s environmental protection requirements, destruction of cod spawning grounds and “negative population-level impacts on Atlantic cod” according to NOAA, which are the effects of Significant long-term long-term effects on the Rhode Island fishing industry In violation of enforceable Ocean SAMP policy, open water cooling systems are not permitted even in the state receiving power from a project to be built over spawning grounds, to name a few .
In a statement to the media after the resignations, Coastal Resources Management Committee officials said they were “disappointed to learn of the resignation of the FAB members”.
“The FAB has provided valuable information and insight to CRMC for federal consistency reviews of offshore wind projects. While these resignations are regrettable, they do not affect CRMC’s review scope, commitments, and timelines as set out in the federal CZMA,” the committee said. “CRMC remains hopeful that the Rhode Island fishing community will continue to participate in the public process for reviewing offshore wind energy projects, as well as any other projects affecting fisheries resources in the state.”
The fishing industry has repeatedly expressed concerns about the pace of offshore wind development on the East Coast of the United States, including through the formation of the Responsible Marine Development Coalition, a fishing industry-backed pressure group formed to roll back offshore wind development that threatens fisheries. . Recently, a US government watchdog announced that it plans to investigate the effects of offshore wind energy development on the commercial fishing sector. C reportIt is compiled by the commercial fishing industry and federal agencies In March 2023, it detailed the changes that offshore wind energy development could bring to fisheries, prompting more research into how the offshore wind energy industry could affect fisheries.
Kirk Moore reporting
Photo by Chris Chase/SeafoodSource