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Offshore Wind Farm has MA Analyzing Impact on Fisheries

Vineyard Wind is expected to build one of the first massive offshore wind farms in the U.S. (Andy Dingley/Wikimedia)
Vineyard Wind is expected to build one of the first massive offshore wind farms in the U.S. (Andy Dingley/Wikimedia)
April 26, 2019

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. – A proposed offshore wind farm south of Martha's Vineyard could be the first industrial-sized facility of its kind in the U.S.. The company Vineyard Wind expects to build the 84-turbine wind installation this year, pending several state approvals.

One important aspect is its potential impact on local fisheries. So, the company is partnering with the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology – or SMAST – to monitor the effects of wind-farm construction on marine life.

SMAST Dean Steven Lohrenz explains why they're doing this research.

"Anybody who has done work on the water is very familiar with how marine life will aggregate, colonize any foreign structure or surface that's placed in the water,” says Lohrenz. “And we expect the same things to happen with these wind turbines."

Lohrenz says the impact may be positive or negative, and they'll study local and regional results.

Rhode Island fishermen already approved a mitigation package in February, for potential damage from the wind farm. It includes more than $4 million in payments over 30 years.

Lohrenz stresses that the fishing industry participated in workshops and pilot projects about the wind farm, and will continue to be involved with the research. He expects the team will start its study later this spring.

Lohrenz says they'll use new, intelligent technology to monitor the fish.

"We've been developing here a video camera system that uses an open net, and we're really trying to get a higher resolution of sampling with hopefully less impact on the fish themselves,” says Lohrenz.

Lohrenz hopes the analysis can create a common set of techniques for others researching the consequences of offshore wind farms on sea life.

Laura Rosbrow-Telem, Public News Service - MA