Fishermen FAQs

SouthCoast Wind believes that responsible offshore wind development requires early, transparent, and continuous engagement and collaboration with our valued commercial and recreational fishing communities.

Mariner Updates

Where is the latest information on survey work and other offshore wind activity by SouthCoast Wind?

The latest survey work and related activity is found on our website. During 2023 multiple vessels will conduct geophysical & geotechnical (G&G) surveys to characterize the ocean floor conditions within federal and state waters to help advance the project’s engineering design.

We are committed to clearly communicating our marine operations to our fellow ocean users, community members, and other maritime partners.

Sign up to receive emails on vessel activity in the lease area and along the cable corridor.

Who do fishermen contact to provide feedback and ask questions?

Our Fisheries Manager is available via phone and email for your feedback and to answer questions and provide additional information. We also jointly host with other offshore wind developers, in person monthly Port Hours in New Bedford, MA and Narragansett, RI.

Fisheries Information/Cable Corridors

Does offshore wind development impact fishing stock?

A seven-year-long study, the first of its kind in the United States, titled, “Demersal fish and invertebrate catches relative to construction and operation of North America’s first offshore wind farm,” was published in the peer reviewed ICES Journal of Marine Science March 2022. The study was paid for by the wind farm developers because Rhode Island coastal regulators mandated it.

Researchers examined data collected between 2012 and 2019 from monthly trips to the offshore wind farm in a commercial trawler that navigated easily between the turbines. Nearly 664,000 fish representing 61 species were collected during the study.

The researchers found that there was no significant negative effect on fish that live near the bottom of the sea – demersal fish – and invertebrate populations during Block Island’s construction and operation. In fact, the researchers found that the turbines had positive effects.

What fisheries research or monitoring is being conducted to study the impacts the project will have on fish stock?

NOAA Fisheries conducts stock assessments. Read more about NOAA’s Fishery Stock Assessments In New England and the Mid-Atlantic on their website.

Do the wind turbines create artificial reefs?

Yes, research is showing that the submerged parts of offshore wind structures act as artificial reefs, providing new habitats and likely affecting fisheries resources.

A seven year-long monitoring of fish and lobsters at the Block Island Wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island was conducted by Dr. Drew Carey, INSPIRE’s CEO, who collaborated with an international group of scientists to prepare a paper on how Offshore Wind Farm Artificial Reefs Affect Ecosystem Structure and Functioning: A Synthesis.

Additional information available:

Research funded by the Rhode Island Sea Grant Project

Will there be safety zones during construction?

Yes. Temporary safety zones (500 meters) will be established only during construction around the immediate activity, following USCG guidance.

We are committed to safety and responsible operations during the development, construction and operations of the project.

Turbines will be visible on AIS and labeled on charts. Uniform numbering and labeling of turbines will be consistent across MA/RI lease areas to provide location within the wind farms.

Will fishing be allowed in the wind farm?

Yes. Fishing will however be temporarily restricted within established safety zones during construction periods.

How do I report lost or damaged fishing gear?

If you are a fisherman and you feel that you have lost fishing gear due to SouthCoast Wind survey activities, please email or call our Fisheries Manager, and download our Gear Loss Claim Application Form.

Will SouthCoast Wind provide compensation to fisheries who are negatively impacted by the Project?

In June 2022, as part of its efforts to ensure that offshore renewable energy development occurs in a thoughtful manner that minimizes conflicts with other ocean users, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced the availability of draft guidance on mitigating potential impacts of offshore wind development on commercial and recreational fishing. The draft guidance provides detailed processes and methodologies to the offshore wind industry and lessees to mitigate imp acts to fisheries in the areas of project siting, design, navigation, access, safety, and financial compensation.

How large is the wind lease area?

The lease area is located over 30 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard and 20 miles south of Nantucket. The project will occupy the 199-square mile (or over 127,000 acres) lease area, which was awarded through a competitive auction by the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).

Who is overseeing SouthCoast Wind’s operations?

There are many state and federal entities overseeing SouthCoast Wind’s construction and operations from the USCG, BOEM, NOAA Fisheries, among others.

Will laying cables, transmitters and other equipment have an impact on fishing habitats and disturb seabed sediments?

SouthCoast Wind has collected extensive geophysical data and benthic survey ground-truth data to support the mapping and characterization of benthic habitats within the Project Area. SouthCoast Wind is siting the marine cable based this field data collection, analysis and mapping of the physical and biological characteristics of the seabed and engineering the cable route to minimize bottom disturbance, avoid sensitive resources and to reach target burial depths to the extent practicable.

Available information can be found in the Construction and Information Plan.

 

How long will construction of the wind farm project take?

Construction of the wind farm, including all onshore and offshore components, will take approximately 3 – 4 years to complete. SouthCoast Wind’s indicative construction schedule can be found in the Construction and Operations Plan: See figure 3-6.

How wide and deep will export cable trenches be and will they negatively disturb the sea floor?

Trench width is expected to be approximately 3.5 feet for each cable and cables will be buried at a target depth of 6 feet, ranging from 3 – 13 feet depending upon benthic conditions such as boulders, etc. Cable installation equipment can temporarily disturb a 3.5-6.5-foot-wide area on the seafloor.

What happens if a cable cannot be buried?

If a sufficient depth cannot be reached there are different cable protection methods that can be used such as:

  • Rock placement: laying rocks on top of the cable to provide protection.
    Concrete mattresses: prefabricated flexible concrete coverings that are laid on top of the cable.
  • Half-shell pipes: two halves are fixed around the cable to provide mechanical protection.
When will the cables be installed?

Export cables will be installed in accordance with state and federal time of year restrictions to reduce conflict with commercial fishing activity and sensitive spawning seasons.