Fishermen’s Organizations Join Ranks with Wind Power Venture

Image: Morro Bay Lease Areas Mutual Benefits Corp.

Two commercial fishermen’s organizations in California are partnering with a joint venture of wind power entities to facilitate communication, coordination and cooperation between the two industries for their mutual coordination and financial benefit.

Partners in the Morro Bay Lease Areas Mutual Benefits Corporation (Morro Bay MBC), which was announced in mid-October, include the Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen’s Organization (MBCFO), the Port San Luis Commercial Fisherman’s Association (PSLCFA) and Castle Wind LLC, a joint venture between Trident Winds Inc. and TotalEnergies Renewables USA.

The partners said the new entity creates a pathway for the industry to demonstrate to fishermen, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the California Coastal Commission the commitment of project developers to responsible offshore wind development that protects and supports a sustainable commercial fishing industry.

Tom Hafer, president of MBCFO, said his fishermen “appreciate that developers like Castle Wind understand the importance of minimizing and compensating for the possible impacts of the offshore wind farms off Morro Bay on the fishing community.”

The new organization will help ensure that the Central Coast fishing industry is meaningfully included in the development of this new industry, he said.

“With any energy project of this magnitude, there are likely to be impacts,” Alla Weinstein, chief executive officer of Castle Wind LLC said.  “Our approach has been to acknowledge, as early as possible, that impacts may occur, which is why we have been working directly with the Central Coast fishermen since the inception of Castle Wind.”

Castle Wind submitted an unsolicited lease request to BOEM in 2016 and signed the original mutual benefits agreement with commercial fishermen and a community benefits agreement with the city of Morro Bay in 2018.

The Morro Bay MBC furthers the 2018 mutual benefits agreement signed by MBCFO, PSLCFA and Castle Wind, which was exclusive to the three signatories. The Morro Bay MBC is open to all project developers who will secure site leases in the Morro Bay Wind Energy Area, and to fishermen that can prove they have been fishing in that area, even if they are not members of MBCFO or PSLCFA.

The structure of the Morro Bay MBC is based on a model established 22 years ago in response to the laying of fiberoptic cables that the California Coastal Commission found sufficient to protect the economic and commercial importance of fishing activities consistent with the state’s enforceable coastal policies.

TotalEnergies, a global multi-energy firm, has said that it is developing a portfolio of offshore wind projects with a total capacity of over 11GW globally, of which two-thirds are bottom-fixed and one-third are floating.

As part of its goal to get to net zero by 2050, TotalEnergies is expanding its renewable electricity business with a goal of reaching 100 GW by 2030 and a stated objective of being among the world’s top producers of electricity from wind and solar energy.