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Fishermen’s partnership says wind farm lacks scientific support

The Massachusetts Fishermen’s Partnership insists that the 84-turbine offshore wind project soon to be developed by Vineyard Wind lacks scientific backing and will inevitably harm the local ecology and way of life for fishermen and boaters.

The release states that the growing wind energy industry is developing at a “rapid pace without adequate science and risk management.”

Executive director of the Massachusetts Fishermen’s Partnership Angela Sanfilippo told The Times the partnership’s comments are based in part on the response of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries (NOAA) to the draft environmental impact statement released by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).

Sanfilippo said NOAA Fisheries has “great concerns” about the impacts of the wind farm on recreational and commercial fishing and boating.

Regional administrator for NOAA Fisheries’ greater Atlantic region Michael Pentony sent a letter to BOEM advising them of his concerns surrounding a lack of in-depth scientific study related to the wind farm. The letter was posted online by media and public outreach website Saving Seafood.

“We determined that many of the conclusory statements relating to the scale of impacts for biological and socioeconomic resources are not well supported in the document,” Pentony wrote in his letter to the BOEM. “Specifically, impacts categorized as major appear underinclusive, while impacts designated as moderate seem overly inclusive.”

Vineyard Wind spokesman Scott Farmelant told The Times in a written statement that, through extensive prepermitting and permitting processes, a “robust data collection” has been compiled to inform the existing condition of the project, and “extensive habitat data has been collected throughout the project area.”

According to Farmelant, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) has helped in the past with data collection, and will help guide the project’s fisheries monitoring studies during construction.

“SMAST’s recommendations were based on its expertise as a leading fisheries research center as well as input from active fishermen, government agencies, and academia,” Farmelant wrote in the statement.