The Ocean SAMP recognizes that the development of offshore renewable energy may affect commercial or recreational fishermen through: loss of access to fishing grounds; decreased catchability of fish species during construction and operation of an offshore renewable energy project; loss of gear; or vessel collisions with devices. Effects to commercially and recreationally targeted fish and invertebrate species that may have secondary effects on fishing activity include: changes in species abundance and distribution; disturbance to fish from noise or EMF; burial or disturbance of eggs and larvae during construction; and aggregation effects around a renewable energy device. While in some cases these effects will be negligible, in instances where the effects are greater, mitigation to the affected fishing community may be necessary.

While the impacts of offshore development projects should strive to minimize adverse impacts to other ocean users, in instances of unavoidable impacts, a mitigation plan may be utilized to help offset those impacts. The University of Rhode Island/Coastal Resources Center has developed a report to provide guidance to CRMC, commercial and recreational fishing interests, and offshore renewable energy developers when determining an appropriate suite of mitigation options that best fits the needs of all interested parties. This report includes a review of mitigation options that have been used internationally in offshore renewable energy projects as well as mitigation options that have been used domestically and internationally with offshore oil and gas developments. The findings of this review were presented to a group of Rhode Island fishermen and shared with members of the Ocean SAMP Fishermen’s Advisory Board to determine whether these strategies could be applied to respond to specific issues facing Rhode Island.

This report was available for public comment in August 2012 and the final report is available here.