PROVIDENCE – Vineyard Wind and representatives of the Rhode Island fishing industry have agreed to another extension to continue negotiations over a multimillion-dollar package to compensate fishermen who say the 84-turbine offshore wind farm would effectively block access to important ocean fishing grounds.
After the New Bedford-based developer and the Fishermen’s Advisory Board met behind closed doors last week to discuss a proposed agreement, they decided to continue negotiations through this Thursday, Feb. 14. Members of the fishermen’s board, who each represent different sectors in the industry, would then present whatever potential pact results from the talks to their constituents for comment.
Because of the extension, a vote by the fishermen’s board scheduled for Monday, Feb. 11, was pushed to Feb. 25, and a related decision by the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council was postponed from Feb. 12 to Feb. 26.
The council must decide whether to grant certification that the $2-billion wind farm planned in federal waters south of Martha’s Vineyard is consistent with state coastal policies and activities, which include the fishing industry. Under state policy, because the project would negatively impact fishermen, Vineyard Wind is required to offer compensation.
The company’s offer includes $6.2 million in direct payments to fishermen and the creation of a $23-million fund for research into new gear and technology to support safe fishing in and around wind turbines.
It came after the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management estimated losses to the state’s fishing industry to be between $30.5 million and $35.6 million over the 30-year life of the wind farm. Vineyard Wind paid for a separate analysis, which projected losses to be far less.
The fishermen’s board has commissioned its own analysis by a University of Rhode Island fishing expert.