Fishermen Challenge Federal Approval Of First Large-Scale Offshore Wind Project

The five turbines of the Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

A group representing commercial fishermen is asking the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to review the federal government’s decision to approve the country’s first large-scale offshore wind project, Vineyard Wind 1.

The Responsible Offshore Development Alliance — known by its acronym, RODA — says the government agencies in charge of assessing and approving offshore wind projects acted hastily and failed to consider how the 62-turbine project near Martha’s Vineyard would harm commercial fishermen.

“The government has a duty here to minimize interference with commercial fishing, with navigation, with the way that our fishing industry utilizes the ocean to provide food. And they didn’t do that in this case,” says Annie Hawkins, executive director of RODA.

Hawkins says fishermen spent hundreds of hours testifying at public hearings and writing to federal agencies outlining their concerns about Vineyard Wind, but were largely ignored. RODA wants the courts to assess whether mistakes were made in the permitting process, before the federal government approves other wind projects lined up behind Vineyard Wind.

A spokesperson for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the main federal permitting agency within the U.S. Interior Department, declined to comment.

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