MoU signed between US fisheries and offshore wind development

Responsible wind energy development underpins new agreement for northeast US waters. Credit: Shutterstock

A 10-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) has been signed between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA Fisheries), the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA), and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).

The agreement combines the interests of federal regulators and local and regional fisheries in the development of offshore wind energy in the Atlantic. The main focus of the MOU is the New England/Mid-Atlantic region, where the federal government currently has 15 active leases for potential offshore wind development projects, covering around 7,000km2. Should these leases be fully developed they could generate more than 19GWof energy, equivalent to providing power to 6.5million homes.

The MOU outlines four main areas of mutual interest. These include “the responsible planning, siting, and development of offshore wind power and working with regional and local fishing interests”. The parties also agree to collaborate on: “engaging local and regional fishing interests in the offshore wind development process; identifying the most effective ways to bring fishing industry expertise and information into planning and development processes; and developing a collaborative regional research and monitoring framework to ensure decisions are based on the best available science”.

NOAA Fisheries has primary interests in fisheries itself, some have been operating for hundreds of years in the area, but also in the conservation of endangered species. The collaboration between all three bodies signifies a big step towards increased development of renewable energy for the US, as well as taking into consideration the interests of those affected at the local and regional level.

“With wind energy developing in the New England/Mid-Atlantic region, this collaboration comes at a crucial time,” said Chris Oliver, assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries. “This MOU will help achieve NOAA Fisheries’ strategic national goal of maximising fishing opportunities while supporting responsible resource development,” he said.