Wind Farm Developer To Reach Out To Regional Fishermen

OCEAN CITY — In an effort to allay concerns from area commercial and recreational fishermen, a company pursuing an offshore wind energy farm off Ocean City has partnered with a consulting firm to disseminate information and answer questions.

US Wind, one of two companies holding leases approved by the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) to develop offshore wind energy farms off the coast of Ocean City, announced last week it is partnering with Sea Risk Solutions, a private consulting firm, to aid the company’s engagement efforts with local commercial and recreational fishermen. From the beginning when the Maryland General Assembly first approved offshore wind energy development off the resort coast, the fishing industry’s interest have been two-fold.

On the one hand, commercial and recreational fishermen have raised concerns the development of massive offshore wind energy farms off the resort coast could disrupt fishing, change migration patterns, cut off vast areas from fishing activities and harm species they target. The massive turbine fields could create navigation hazards for commercial and recreational fishermen.

On the other hand, the substructure of the massive turbines could create new fishing opportunities once the wind energy farms are developed. It remains to be seen if the end result will be more of the former and less of the latter, but US Wind is partnering with Sea Risk Solutions to help ensure the local fishing industry is informed throughout the process.

The partnership aims to ensure ongoing, consistent dialogue with local fishermen as US Wind’s development activities are expected to ramp up. Sea Risk Solutions’ Wolfgang Rain and Ron Larsen have been named as US Wind’s fisheries liaisons for the commercial and recreational sectors in the area.

“US Wind is committed to early, often and continuous dialogue and information-sharing with the fishermen in our region,” said US Wind Director of External Affairs Nancy Sopko. “Getting Sea Risk Solutions onboard, particularly with Wolfgang and Ron with their vast experience and connections in the fishing community is a huge step forward in these engagement efforts.”

In 2014, US Wind acquired an 80,000-acre federal lease area off the coast of Ocean City to develop an offshore wind energy farm. In 2017, the PSC awarded the Offshore Renewable Energy Credits, or ORECs, for the first phase of its MarWin project.

The partnership with Sea Risk Solutions will focus on the dissemination of information related to project milestones and survey activities. It will also promote collaborative business opportunities and coordinate regular opportunities to gather information and respond to questions and concerns from the fishing community, according to Rain.

“We are excited to support US Wind in developing this critical offshore renewable energy project by acting as their fisheries liaisons,” he said. “By working closely with local and regional fishermen, we can facilitate an exchange of information to help inform the wind farm development activities. We look forward to engaging with the area’s fishermen and establishing a foundation for the long-term cooperative relationship US Wind desires with its offshore neighbors.”

Sea Risk Solutions is a U.S.-based small business with global and regional experience in facilitating coexistence between offshore infrastructure developers and fishing communities.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.