Beth Casoni, executive director of the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, has joined EnBw North America as its fisheries liaison. EnBw North America is a subsidiary of EnBw AG, a German utility and wind farm company.
EnBw North America, which has offices in Boston and Jersey City, N.J., was runner-up for federal lease areas off Massachusetts that went out to bid Dec. 18, 2018, according to Bill White, managing director of EnBw North America. The winners of those bids were Equinor Wind, Mayflower Wind Energy, and Vineyard Wind. With its successful bid, Vineyard Wind was allotted an ocean area off Massachusetts where it can potentially build a second wind farm.
EnBw North America remains in the game despite the recent loss, and is working to establish a strong presence in the commercial fishing community with Casoni.
“I think the world of her,” White said of Casoni. “She’s got an enormous amount of expertise and knowledge.”
Casoni has stepped down from her seat on the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA), and will be replaced by Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association vice president Jarrett Drake, White said. However she will remain at the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association while serving as EnBw North America’s fisheries liaison.
White said he has known Casoni for years, including back when he headed the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, and when he started to build a team, she was at the top of the list of people he wanted.
White said Casoni’s knowledge of the commercial fishing industry will help forge collaborative efforts with the fishing community, and help ensure workable “coexistence.”
EnBw North America will still be involved with RODA, despite Casoni’s departure, as the company has joined RODA’s Joint Industry Task Force.
“RODA formed the Joint Industry Task Force earlier this year as a special project to bring our members together with the offshore wind energy sector outside of the regulatory environment,” Annie Hawkins, RODA executive director, said through a release. “As the two industries seek ways to share our ocean and its resources, the task force provides a collaborative and transparent forum to explore ways to collectively minimize risks. We applaud EnBW’s proactive approach to considering fishing concerns and working constructively toward solutions through its participation in this effort.”
White said, “We intend to compete and compete hard” for offshore opportunities in the vicinity of the New York Bight, including a request for proposals for approximately 1,200 megawatts from New Jersey and another for about 800 megawatts from New York.
White said EnBw AG is an offshore wind pioneer in Germany, where it has built or is building several wind farms. Most recently, he said, the company commissioned the largest offshore wind project in the country, the 600-megawatt Hohe See and Albatros wind farms.
Asked by The Times if Germany forbids commercial fishing within offshore wind farms, White said, “That’s right.” In all of Europe, he said, only the U.K. permits commercial fishing inside offshore wind farms. As to wind farms EnBw North America may erect off New Jersey and New York or elsewhere on the East Coast, White said that fishery access is “imperative” to the company, and that “our intent is to allow fishing.”
As for radar interference, White said, “that’s a bit preliminary, but we know it’s an important issue in regards to clutter …”
Ultimately, he deferred to the U.S. Coast Guard on the issues of both fishing access and radar. “These decisions are going to be really driven by the U.S. Coast Guard, which has jurisdiction,” he said.
White stressed EnBw North America is mindful of the needs of the commercial fishing community, and that the company has made fishery access a priority. He noted his company, in the big picture, is looking for ways to provide energy in a way that will ameliorate the economic threats posed by global warming, and that commercial fishing isn’t immune to those threats.
“Climate change is affecting fisheries as well as other sectors of the economy,” he said.
Casoni did not immediately return a message seeking comment. Through a release, Casoni said she was pleased to join EnBW North America.
“I’m honored to join Bill and the EnBW North America team as fisheries liaison,” she said. “I first met Bill when he co-chaired the Massachusetts Fisheries Working Group on Offshore Wind, and know firsthand his respect for the fishing industry. I look forward to engaging with the fishing industry and guiding EnBW North America forward in this vital role.”