UMass Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science & Technology (SMAST) has been awarded $278,592 to conduct fisheries surveys as part of the Bureau of Ocean Science Energy Management’s (BOEM’s) Regional Fisheries Studies to Guide Offshore Wind Development.
The Baker-Polito Administration, in partnership with the State of Rhode Island and the BOEM, announced grants worth $1.1 million to four institutions to support regional fisheries studies that will collect data vital to the ongoing development of the offshore wind industry in North America, according to the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs press release.
The first-in-the-nation studies will conduct important research on recreational and commercial fisheries, seabed habitat, and comparable offshore wind policies in Europe. Dr. Kevin Stokesbury, Professor of Fisheries Oceanography, and his team of researchers will conduct towed net surveys for larval lobster and fish neuston (small fish organisms) throughout the wind energy areas. This 18-month study will provide baseline information on the spatial and temporal distribution of species at their earliest life stage, during which they are transported by tides and currents.
“This project is an example of how our dedicated SMAST faculty, staff, and students are working hand-in-hand with the fishing industry and federal and state agencies to gather critical data necessary to advance the development of offshore wind in a manner that ensures the sustainability of important fisheries resources,” said Steven E. Lohrenz, Dean of SMAST.
“Collaborating with our state and federal partners to support these studies will help us better manage fisheries and natural habitats while positioning the offshore wind industry to stimulate economic development and deliver clean, affordable energy to Massachusetts,” said Governor Charlie Baker.
“The data collected through these regional studies will help inform offshore wind development, protect fisheries and marine wildlife, and ensure our fishing industry continues to thrive,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito.
INSPIRE Environmental, the University of Rhode Island, and New Bedford Port Authority have also been awarded contracts as part of the project.
The initiative is sponsored and funded by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.