NEW BEDFORD – Fishermen and the city of New Bedford are facing an uphill battle in their fight against a New York offshore wind location after losing a lawsuit in September.
Attorney David Frulla, who represents the Fisheries Survival Fund and other plaintiffs in the case, said he was disappointed at the court decision but has not given up.
“I just don’t think the judge understood that these leases aren’t theoretical, that they actually confer rights,” he said.
The Fisheries Survival Fund is leading a dozen plaintiffs. They sued the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in 2016, saying the agency had not done enough to seek alternatives to important fishing grounds.
United States District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan in September granted the federal government’s motion for summary judgment, meaning she believed they made their case as a matter of law, without a trial.
The plaintiffs filed a motion to amend the decision, which is still pending.
Mayor Jon Mitchell said Friday that the city shares the disappointment of the other plaintiffs but believes there are strong grounds for the judge to reconsider.
“The decisions made by federal agencies about what happens in New York waters have major implications for New Bedford fishermen, so we have no choice but to fight when we believe our interests are not being taken into account,” he said.
In the motion to amend, the plaintiffs argue that state energy-purchase commitments made after the lawsuit was filed undermine the court’s opinion “that a lease sale does not constitute an irreversible and irretrievable commitment of resources.”
The area in question, called the New York Bight, is south of Long Island.
Drew Minkiewicz, another lawyer representing the fishermen and city, said the motion to amend is an intermediate step before an appeal. They could still decided to appeal.
“More facts have come to light that really fill out the record,” he said.
A BOEM spokesman said the agency would not comment on pending litigation.
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