Collaborative Fisheries Planning For Virginia’s Wind Energy Area

Fisheries & Offshore Wind Energy

Chesapeake Environmental Communications (CEC) facilitates a collaborative fisheries planning team focused on activities in and near Virginia’s Offshore Wind Energy Area. The project is supported the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program, and Virginia’s Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy. The objective is to develop a series of best management practices for the state’s wind energy area by assessing environmental and socioeconomic impacts of fishing within the area.

As shown in case studies from the offshore wind energy industries in Rhode Island and the United Kingdom, the development of wind energy resources will require marine spatial planning to consider competing uses of the outer continental shelf, such as commercial and recreational fishing. Engaging stakeholders in early planning stages is essential to foster an open dialogue and reduce adverse impacts between the wind energy industry and the fishing community.

The team is identifying best management practices from scientific literature, stakeholder consultations, and outreach workshops that will aid in this dialogue and mitigate any potential impacts the wind energy area may have on the fishing industry. For example, we are examining methods to disseminate information to fishermen, identify potential safety protocols, and frameworks for environmental monitoring. Leaseholders in the wind energy area would be asked to demonstrate the incorporation of these practices in their planning to receive BOEM approval for development.

As the facilitator of this team, CEC collaborates with a variety of state and federal agencies, nonprofits, and international experts; organizes outreach workshops with the fisheries community to develop participatory GIS maps of fishing effort in the wind energy area; and designs outreach products like the  Story Map, Fact Sheet and list of FAQs Related to Wind Energy found here on the Outer Continental Shelf and Collaborative Fisheries Planning for Virginia’s Offshore Wind Energy Area.