The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on June 23 issued draft guidance on mitigating potential impacts of offshore wind development on commercial and recreational fishing and is inviting public review and comment.
The draft mitigation document is the next step in development of guidance for offshore wind companies that began in 2021 via a request for information from the fishing industry, government agencies, non-government organizations and the public, in consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service.
BOEM director Amanda Lefton said the agency is seeking open and honest conversations focused on finding solutions to potential challenges, with a goal of providing clean, safe domestic energy, plus good jobs, and building a U.S. supply chain to support this effort.
The draft guidance offers processes and methodologies to the offshore wind industry and lessees to mitigate impacts to fisheries in areas of project siting, design, navigation, access, safety and financial compensation. BOEM said such guidance will help ensure consistent use of data and methodologies for projects and states on and review of construction and operation plans.
Public comment is being accepted through Aug. 22 and should be submitted via regulations.gov under docket number BOEM-2022-0033, or by attending one of the upcoming virtual public meetings. Four public meetings are slated for July, including one for the West Coast from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pacific Time on July 15, with the location still to be determined.
During the meetings BOEM is expected to present the draft guidance, answer questions about it and receive feedback on key issue areas.
BOEM marine biologist Brian Hooker said the agency wants feedback on the entirety of mitigation framework, from facility design considerations to recommendations on compensatory mitigation particularly from the people and organizations that the guidance is meant to aid.
Registration for the meetings and additional information on the matter will be shared on BOEM’s website, https://www.boem.gov/renewable-energy/reducing-or-avoiding-impacts-offshore-wind-energy-fisheries.