The arrival of wind-powered electricity for Block Island may come at the expense of the 150-year-old Black Point Fish Trap, which will be closed indefinitely because of its proximity to the sea cable installation project that will connect the Block Island Wind Farm to the mainland and the island.
The Black Point Fish Trap, a continuous 150-year-old fish trap, is owned by Alan Glidden of the Black Point Fish Company. It will be closed indefinitely during and after the installation of the Sea2shore cable project because of its proximity to the pathway of the cable.
During a public meeting held Feb. 3, fishermen expressed frustration over the trap’s closure and the possibility it may never recover or reopen. Reached for comment Tuesday, Rich Fuka, president of Rhode Island Fishermen’s Alliance, said the loss of even one of the few remaining Rhode Island fish traps may be too much to sacrifice.
“Here’s the gist of this unfortunate tradeoff – there are only so many fish traps in the state of Rhode Island, maybe 25 or 30. You take one out of the equation, that’s one less historical fish trap site that we’re never going to regain again, that’s one historical fish trap site that will no longer produce a food source, in this case, fish,” Fuka said.
According to Fuka, the fish trap has a rich history. He said it will be moved from its current location on Black Point north to the Bass Rock area. But, he reiterated, with only about 30 grandfathered and operating fish traps in the state, removing even one can have a profound effect.
“My gut feeling is the sad tradeoff of cable for a loss of a fish trap is what’s going to occur. The cable where it is coming to shore is going to disrupt the Black Point Fish Trap and we’re going to lose a historical value when it comes to landing a food source,” Fuka said.
Glidden has been compensated for the loss of fishing income. Fuka said there are approximately five other commercial fishermen who were compensated by National Grid for loss of fishing income because they were able to demonstrate historical fishing and landings in the areas where the five wind turbines will be placed.
“This isn’t necessarily just a loss to the individual who leases that site, this is a site that Rhode Island has historically had and leased to various fishermen, some of them for a very long time,” Fuka said.
State Department of Environmental Management spokeswoman Gail Mastrati said in an email the fish trap location will be inoperable during and after construction of the cable installation and will remain off limits indefinitely. She said, however, the fisheries industry will continue to supply the state with an abundance of product.
“The Department of Environmental Management is responsible for management of the state’s marine fisheries resources; our Division of Fish & Wildlife Marine Fisheries researches and monitors marine species to support the effective management of finfish and shellfish of commercial and recreational importance. Rhode Island has a diverse and dynamic commercial fishing and seafood industry. Steeped in tradition, the industry continues to thrive thanks to the health and abundance of locally available fishery resources and the thousands of hardworking men and women who harvest the resources and make them available to seafood consumers throughout Rhode Island – and the world. From local favorites such as squid and quahogs, to scup, fluke, big eye tuna and tile fish – it’s all abundant and landed right here in the Ocean State,” said Mastrati in a prepared statement.
She added the fish trap is not officially closed, but is not in the water.
Deepwater Wind spokeswoman Meaghan Sims deferred all questions to National Grid spokesman David Graves because they “are leading the cable project.”
Graves said in an email that an amicable agreement was reached between National Grid and the lease owner of the trap after research revealed that continued operations of the fish trap would interfere with the cable installation.
“National Grid entered into an agreement with the Black Point Fish Trap owner that mitigates construction and future operation of the sea cable that will be installed as part of the Sea2shore project. The need for permanent mitigation arose after conducting detailed engineering, constructability and maintenance reviews and analysis of the state and federal permitted cable installation site. It was determined, after examining multiple alternative options, that the existing fishing operations conducted in that permitted location would have both short- and long-term interference in the construction and operation of the sea cable. The amicable resolution achieved between National Grid and Black Point Fish Trap resolves these challenges,” Graves said in the email.
At the public outreach meeting, National Grid presented permit modifications for the transmission line that will carry power from the Deepwater Wind Block Island Wind Farm three miles off the coast of Block Island, to landing points at Crescent Beach on the island, and Scarborough Beach in Narragansett. On the mainland, the transmission cable will then travel along Route 108 to a switching station near Ted Wright Rotary.
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