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Study of Commercial Fishing in Nantucket Sound: Considerations pertinent to the proposed wind farm on Horseshoe Shoal

Project summary: The MFP convened a focus group meeting in Hyannis to hear from representatives of each of the fishing sectors that traditionally fish in Nantucket Sound. Participants were interviewed and asked to mark charts of the Sound showing customary areas of commercial fishing which was immediately digitized in GIS. The information collected was augmented by landings data from the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and some additional information gathered from other fishermen. The consensus of those interviewed for this project is that if the wind farm is built as planned, it will close the most productive portion of the Soundís fishing grounds to the mobile gear fishing fleet. They claim the footprint would take up about 1/3 of the active vesselsí fishing grounds, but could diminish their landings by two-thirds.

One hundred, twenty-three commercial vessels have been identified by name as fishing in Nantucket Sound. Interviewees estimated that commercial mobile gear fishing vessels earn one-half to 60 percent of their annual income fishing on Horseshoe Shoal, the proposed area of the wind farm. The interviewees warned that the presence of wind turbines on the shoals would certainly force some existing commercial fishing businesses to move their activities into other areas of the Sound. In addition, these businesses would probably have to target alternative species, possibly including species that are already fully exploited in the Sound. They believe that potential impacts include gear conflicts, overfishing, and economic losses. The final report of this project is intended to convey the input of the focus group participants, and to relate their consensus of the need to warn of the potential impacts of the wind farm project.

Project partners:
Dr. Madeleine Hall-Arber, MIT Sea Grant College Program
David Bergeron, Massachusetts Fishermenís Partnership
Dr. Rhonda Ryznar, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
 

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