Meeting tonight on fish, birds and wind turbines

For Islanders interested in how offshore wind development might affect fishing and birds, a meeting tonight at 5 pm, in the Oak Bluffs Library, will feature two simultaneous work sessions to discuss both topics.

The public meeting is the second in a series of four on Martha’s Vineyard organized by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) to discuss a collaborative planning effort by Massachusetts and Rhode Island for offshore wind development.

In a memorandum of understanding signed in July Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieri agreed that both states would work together to permit and develop offshore wind energy projects in a designated area of mutual interest (AMI) in federal waters.

The AMI covers 400 square miles in Rhode Island Sound about 12 nautical miles southwest of Martha’s Vineyard. Since Rhode Island’s Ocean Special Area Management Plan (SAMP) focused on data from Rhode Island and will be the sole planning document for development in the AMI, the EEA is seeking comments from Dukes County residents and board members.

Rhode Island and Massachusetts officials explained the SAMP and data it contains from studies of birds, marine mammals, recreation, tourism, and fishing at the October 21 meeting. A videotape of the meeting is available on demand online at www.MVTV.org, using the search word “wind.”

Tonight’s work sessions are intended for more in-depth discussion and to answer and ask questions, particularly in regard to where Martha’s Vineyard fishermen fish and what they catch, in order to gather more information and do some mapping.

A presentation on how Rhode Island and Massachusetts officials have incorporated Duke’s County residents’ comments into the SAMP and their reaction to comments or concerns about fish and birds is scheduled for Thursday, November 18.