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July 30, 2003

Bay State Fishermen Petition State Coastal Management Task Force Against "Industrialization of Coastal Waters" for Wind Turbines

BOSTON – Representatives of the largest working fishing organizations in Massachusetts today presented the newly created Massachusetts Ocean Management Task Force with hundreds of signatures on a petition from fishermen concerned that offshore wind energy projects in the state’s most sensitive fishing areas will hurt the state’s fishery and the ability of fishermen to earn a living.

David Bergeron, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Fishermen’s Partnership, and Chatham fisherwoman Shareen Davis, today brought petitions to Task Force Chairman Susan Tierney containing more than 300 signatures of working fishermen throughout the Massachusetts coastal communities. The Task Force is meeting Wednesday and Thursday, July 30-31, 2003 at the Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston.

The petitions, entitled "Commercial and recreational fishermen who oppose the taking of coastal fishing areas for industrial wind projects," state in their preamble:

"Currently, there are seven offshore wind energy development projects proposed along the Massachusetts coastline from the town of Essex to the Island of Nantucket. We are opposed to the industrialization of our coastal waters and fishing areas and remain concerned about the installation of these machines in the waters off Essex and Nantucket Sound and other areas will negatively impact our marine environment and undermine our ability to earn a living on the water. We are appalled that the federal government has little or no regulation in place for non-water dependent uses while fishermen continue to suffer from federal over-regulation."

Bergeron, whose organization represents 20 of the largest fishing groups with thousands of working fishermen and women, urged the Coastal Management Task Force to consider not only the impact to the fishery and marine environment from these projects, but also the impact on the safety of fishing vessels and the ability of fishermen to earn a living.

"Fishermen have grave concerns about the impacts of these proposals with these turbines rising over 400 feet high and 20 feet in diameter," said Bergeron. "They would be driven 80 feet into the ocean floor, anchored in acres of concrete on rich fishing grounds and then connected by hundreds of miles of electricity transmission cable along the ocean floor. Projects like the planned Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound will essentially take fishing grounds and essential habitat by eminent domain with absolutely no regard to the economic impacts or environmental degradation. Fishermen and lobstermen worry how the project would change wave energy, and water temperatures. Nothing is known about how the placement of the turbines with continuous vibrations will impact migrations and spawning behaviors of lobsters, fish, birds, whales, or other marine mammals. Fish, birds, whales, or other marine mammals are facing a disruption of their natural environment."

Bergeron said his organization opposes the Nantucket Sound location but met with Cape Wind Associates’ CEO Jim Gordon and offered to assist him in finding alternative sites. He said his organization would also work with the Coastal Management Task Force to find alternative sites that are not in Nantucket Sound.

Shareen Davis, a 12th generation Cape Codder who fishes commercially with her husband Ernie Eldredge out of Chatham, said that fishermen are "constantly under siege by regulations and restrictions that make it more and more difficult to earn a living on the water. We certainly understand and respect the need for renewable energy, but we are engaged in an activity that literally puts food on the plates of consumers and fishermen. We need to protect that activity, not throw more roadblocks in front of it."

Isaac Rosen, Executive Director of the Alliance To Protect Nantucket Sound, said the Task force appointed by Governor Mitt Romney and his Environmental Affairs Secretary Ellen Herzfelder to sort out competing coastal uses and state and federal jurisdictional issues, is a good first step.

"Our opposition to the Nantucket Sound project is hardened by the fact that this developer has simply declared his right to build this massive project on Horse Shoe Shoals without ever demonstrating that he has a right to do so or cares about who and what he impacts," said Rosen. "These fishermen know and care about Nantucket Sound far more than a developer who seeks to privatize a large chunk of it. I applaud the governor and the secretary for a serious effort at sorting out these issues."

Petition signatures are from more than 20 Cape and Island communities and from more than a dozen other communities along the Massachusetts coast. Click here to see the members of the Fishermen’s Partnership

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