Unites States backs six marine energy-fishing co-location projects in the northeast
The Northeast Sea Grant Consortium and its partners have supported six projects to advance social science and technology research on offshore renewable energy in the Northeast United States.
The Northeast Sea Grant Consortium – in partnership with the US Department of Energy’s Wind Energy Technologies Office and Water Power Technologies Office, and NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center – selected six projects to share over $1.1 million in federal funds, with each project matching 50% in non-federal funds.
The projects were selected as part of a funding opportunity, first announced in March 2021, whose aim is to catalyze research for the coexistence of marine energy – including wind, current, tidal, and wave energies – with Northeast fishing and coastal communities.
The innovative funding partnership applies the Sea Grant model to connect science and tools directly with communities and ocean users. In addition, to effectively translate the results of the funded research for use by communities, NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center designated $350,000 in federal funding in parallel with the research projects.
As part of these efforts, Northeast Sea Grant program extension staff will work directly with fishing communities and other stakeholders to provide scientific, legal, and policy research support in response to fishing community needs.
The following projects have been selected for support:
- Building Capacity for Participatory Approaches to Community Resilience and Ocean Renewable Energy Siting (Project Lead: Heather Leslie, University of Maine) will characterize values and beliefs in three communities to understand where ocean renewable energy is a good fit for people and place, and develop a community toolkit with maps, surveys, and participatory practices that can be applied across the Northeast.
- Can Proprietary Commercial Lobstering Data be Used to Inform Offshore Wind Development? (Project Lead: Kate Beard-Tisdale, University of Maine) will create a standardized procedure for constructing representations of the Maine lobster fishery using data and knowledge from individual fishermen, and develop data product models and sample products that will inform fisheries management and marine spatial planning.
- Community Engagement and Stakeholder Perceptions of Floating Offshore Wind (Project Lead: Alison Bates, Colby College) will develop a stakeholder database, survey tools, and holistic outreach strategy to evaluate community perceptions of offshore wind, identify the capacity and necessary conditions for stakeholders to coexist with offshore wind, and present recommendations for equitable solutions.
- Evaluating Messaging, Communication Networks, and Public Engagement on Offshore Wind Development in Southern New England (Project Lead: Emily Diamond, University of Rhode Island) will analyze public engagement strategies, messages, networks, and sources used to communicate and engage communities and stakeholders in decision-making for proposed offshore wind projects, and incorporate community perspectives to make recommendations for effective and equitable messaging and strategies.
- Regional Community Attitudes Regarding Procedural and Distributive Justice Dimensions of Southern New England Offshore Wind Development (Project Lead: David Bidwell, University of Rhode Island) will assess community concerns and research questions regarding procedural, distributive, and recognitional justice dimensions of offshore wind projects in southern New England, and work to address barriers within and among communities to ensure equity and well-being for a just energy transition.
- Achieving Community Resilience by Optimizing Symbiotic Offshore Renewable Energy and Food Systems (Project Lead: Maha Haji, Cornell University) will develop a mapping tool for spatial planning allowing for the integration of multiple ocean uses in the same area. The goal is to enable symbiosis between renewable energy and food systems and empower stakeholders, fishers, aquaculture farmers, and developers to make informed decisions for long-term resilience.
Kelly Speakes-Backman, principal deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the US Department of Energy, said: “The United States has abundant wind and water power resources along our coastlines that can help our nation, and our coastal and marine communities in particular, reach a 100% clean energy economy with net-zero emissions no later than 2050.
“At the same time, we recognize communities and local economies depend on the ocean for their livelihoods and way of life. Through this research partnership with the Northeast Sea Grant Consortium and NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center, we can better understand and optimize these shared uses of the ocean.”
This research and extension will benefit a variety of ocean users and stakeholders by providing the community-focused tools required for equitable and sustainable development of the Northeast’s coastal and ocean resources, according to the US Department of Energy.
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