Offshore wind and fishing industries must ‘coexist to survive’


NEW BEDFORD — “Our people know what they’re doing at sea.”

That’s the common refrain of city and state politicians alike as they try to convince industry leaders and the public that New Bedford should be America’s offshore wind hub.

First we were whalers. Then we were fishermen. Next we will be offshore constructing, repairing and maintaining wind turbines.

The refrain was repeated by a city delegation to an offshore wind energy conference in Providence last fall, it was repeated by state legislators as they tried to fight an energy bill that could hurt offshore wind in the spring, and it was repeated by dignitaries as they welcomed the Charles W. Morgan whaleship into port this summer.

But while landlubbers may see offshore wind as simply a promising new industry that could bring new jobs, the fishermen who will have to work along these turbines often see something else.

They see another layer of federal rules and regulations to navigate. In addition to worrying about how many days they can go out to sea, they say they now have to worry about giant steel structures getting in their way and impeding their catch.

“There is a big feeling that this is just another thing encroaching on us,” said seafood consultant Jim Kendall. “But we know we’ll have to coexist to survive.”

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