Fishing group files legal challenge against BOEM Vineyard 1 decision
The Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA), a broad coalition of fishing industry associations and fishing companies, has filed a petition for review with the United States First Circuit Court of Appeals regarding the decision of the Home Secretary of July 15, 2021 approving the Vineyard Wind 1 offshore wind power project.
RODA says the action is “the culmination of many years of conscientious participation by fishing professionals to see their expertise and value summarily ignored by decision makers during the rental process”.
According to RODA, the US fishing industry is harvesting a renewable food source for the American people and providing vital services to coastal communities and the nation; in 2019, U.S. commercial fishermen landed 9.3 billion pounds of seafood worth $ 5.5 billion. US fisheries are held to a high standard of sustainability, but are “under increasing pressure from unfair competition with foreign entities capable of circumventing strict environmental oversight.”
RODA claims that BOEM’s “hasty approval” of the Vineyard 1 project “adds unacceptable risk to this sustainable industry without any effort to minimize unreasonable interference with traditional and well-managed seafood production and shipping.”
“This is an unprecedented decision by BOEM, and it is essential that they do it right so that future projects follow a reliable roadmap rather than a flawed and dangerous example,” says Anne Hawkins, Director executive of RODA. “Unfortunately, this lawsuit is the only recourse available to fishermen to ensure that the concerns of fishing communities are taken into account.”
RODA says the fishing industry “has always expressed serious concerns about the Vineyard Wind project. Their main demand is to be able to continue their operations in safety, but their heritage, well-being and community structures have been systematically marginalized in the authorization process. The BOEM-approved project design would endanger fishermen by placing the turbines too close to each other for fishing vessels to navigate safely in bad weather or rough seas. Based on their understanding of the connectivity of marine systems, fishermen have also repeatedly requested an assessment of the cumulative impact of offshore wind development on fisheries and protected resources. Unfortunately, BOEM has not taken a holistic approach to address the cumulative impact of offshore wind on the ocean ecosystem and coastal communities. It is impossible to effectively plan a new ocean industry without such analysis, especially with such a large environmental footprint. “