NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — Vineyard Wind has come to an agreement with the state-appointed Fisheries Advisory Board in terms of a compensation package to mitigate any disruption to the fishing industry when the company’s proposed 84-turbine offshore wind farm is constructed and in operation off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.
The two parties had a deadline of Feb. 25 to come to a compensation agreement, following a week of negotiations.
Vineyard Wind Spokesman Chris Hunter sent Eyewitness News a statement saying that they came to an agreement with a vote held on Feb. 23, saying:
“After more than a year of meetings and discussions, we are pleased that the Fisheries Advisory Board (FAB) has voted to approve a $16.7 million comprehensive funding proposal that will allow Rhode Island’s fishing industry to grow side-by-side with our project and future offshore wind developments.
The package agreed to today by the FAB includes $12.5 million in funding to a trust fund that would be managed by Rhode Island fishermen for the purpose of ensuring safe and effective fishing in and around Vineyard Wind’s project area and future wind farms generally. Vineyard Wind will pay $2.5 million per year for 5-years into this fund. In addition to this fishermen-directed fund of $12.5 million, a separate fund totaling $4.2 million would be established to compensate for any direct impacts to Rhode Island fishermen or other sectors of the Rhode Island fishing industry.
This is a change from an earlier proposal from Vineyard Wind to make smaller annual payments over a 30 year period for both funds. The FAB advised Vineyard Wind that larger annual payments over a shorter period would be of greater value and more useful to Rhode Island’s fishermen than smaller payments over a longer period, as we had first proposed.
Vineyard Wind deeply appreciates the commitment of the FAB and CRMC staff to working with us to develop this win-win package that sets the standard for how New England’s fishing and offshore wind industries can grow together.”
The Fisheries Advisory Board added this agreement provides fishermen with slightly more than the $30 million that Vineyard Wind initially proposed in negotiations.
The FAB said the proposal on which they agreed, “is structured in a way that provides more surety that the compensation will be paid and that it will be paid sooner.”
FAB Attorney Tricia Jedele said that the structure in this mitigation, “takes into account the difference between the present value of money versus the future value of money that the fishing industry would have had to wait to receive.”
Just earlier this week, Richard Fuka of the Rhode Island Fishermen’s Alliance said he and his fishermen were outraged at the offers Vineyard Wind put on the table and he believed that the Fisheries Advisory Board did not accurately represent the opinions of fishermen and fish houses, particularly in the squid fishing industry.
Fuka sent Eyewitness News a statement shortly after Saturday’s vote saying:
“Today’s FAB / Fisheries Advisory Board meeting and vote to accept Vineyard Winds mitigation proposal played out just as it has over the past six plus years, the misrepresentation of the calamari fishermen, making the rules up as they go which once again included no comments or testimony from the “big three fish houses” Seafreeze, Town Dock Seafood and Seafresh or any other squid fishermen in the room.”