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Fishing industry says it is threatened by offshore power development

Officials in Massachusetts and Rhode Island are rejoicing about the surge in offshore power developments. But one group of workers is not happy about the development.

“Offshore wind threatens the future of commercial fishing on the east coast of America,” says Meghan Lapp, an industry liaison with federal regulators.

She says between the structures, the cables, and the radar interference, the wind turbine farms proposed for offshore will take away fishing grounds. “It’s the greatest threat to commercial fishing today,” she tells NBC 10.

Jeff Grybowski from Deepwater Wind says that’s not true.

“Most fishermen already understand that commercial fishing and fishing can completely coexist. It’s a big ocean, and we’re looking forward to working with commercial fishermen,” he says the industry is in ongoing discussions with fishing groups to see how best to coexist.

But the head of the Rhode Island Fishermen’s Alliance, Rich Fuka, says the leaders of the state need to consider what the tradeoffs might be if offshore areas are built out for power. Deepwater Wind is projecting 50 permanent jobs for its Rhode Island project. Fuka says that is nothing compared to the fishing industry. “Let’s not forget all the different companies that are attached to the fishing industry. Fuel companies, ice companies, shore side processing, the jobs add up very, very quickly.”

Grybowski says it’s not an either-or situation.

“I don’t think it’s a trade off. I think offshore wind and commercial fishing are both users of the ocean to live next to each other and work in the same ocean,” he said.