NOAA Fisheries, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), and the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA) signed a 10-year Memorandum of Understanding that brings local and regional fishing interests together with federal regulators to collaborate on the science and process of offshore wind energy development on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf.
RODA, which is a broad membership-based coalition of fishing industry associations and fishing companies, will work with NOAA Fisheries and BOEM to compile, develop, and deliver the best available scientific products and information necessary to address offshore development, fisheries management, and ecosystem health. The new Memorandum of Understanding identifies four areas of mutual interest, which include the responsible planning, siting, and development of offshore wind power and working with regional and local fishing interests. The parties agree to collaborate on: engaging local and regional fishing interests in the offshore wind development process; identifying the most effective ways to bring fishing industry expertise and information into planning and development processes; and developing a collaborative regional research and monitoring framework to ensure decisions are based on the best available science.
Today, the Federal Government has 15 active leases covering nearly 1.7 million acres in the Outer Continental Shelf for potential offshore wind development. Collectively, these leases could generate more than 19 GW of energy. NOAA Fisheries manages more than 42 commercially and recreationally important species as part of 14 fishery management plans. In 2016, approximately 4,600 vessels landed more than 1 billion pounds of key fish species. The region is also vital for many endangered and threatened marine species, including the North Atlantic right whale, necessitating protective measures to ensure their survival for future generations.