Wind turbines and a shadow over Island fishers

Local lobstermen aren’t being compensated for the impact of Vineyard Wind, but they say they should be.


Their boat is named Redemption. And as seventeen-year-old Tegan Gale walked onto the lobster boat docked at Tashmoo landing on a warm March day, he was thinking about what the boat meant to him and about his future. 

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School senior would be a third-generation Island lobster fisherman. Since he was a kid, he’s been helping his father — Jason Gale — haul up lobster traps in Vineyard waters, just like Jason did with his father, Ray Gale.

Tegan says he loves being out on the water, and he wants to keep the family tradition alive, but he’s up against what he sees as big business and a lot of uncertainty.

Lobster fishing requires expensive, upfront costs. There is a long list: the cost of upkeep on the boat, new traps and repairing old ones, all of their foul-weather gear, and of course a license. Aside from finances, there are also new regulations to protect right whales that make the work increasingly challenging. And amid all this, the industry has changed, with massive investment firms consolidating fishing boats and harming small businesses. 

And now, there’s another layer of uncertainty: the new offshore wind industry. 

“It’s scary, honestly,” Tegan said. “I love fishing, and I would love to be able to make a living doing it. But there are so many unknowns.” 

Tegan isn’t alone. Several Island fishermen say the new industry has the potential to disrupt their work for years to come. They have questions about the impacts of underwater cables extending from the turbines, and dragging nets over the high-voltage wires. They also have fears about the impact to sea life during construction of the offshore wind farms.

And local lobster fishers like the Gales think that the wind industry could do more to help.

Vineyard Wind recently announced it was taking applications from Massachusetts fishermen who are eligible for a $19 million compensation program. But Island fishermen say they aren’t eligible, even though they say they are directly impacted.

The Gales — and officials with the Martha’s Vineyard Fishermen’s Preservation Trust — say that as Vineyard Wind ramps up construction 15 miles from the Island, fishing boats that would fish near the lease area are moving into inshore waters around the Vineyard to set their traps. 

The Gales and others don’t contend that what these boats are doing is wrong, but combined with fishing closures already in place to protect right whales, they worry that their piece of the pie is getting smaller.

“It’s already happening,” Jason Gale said. “The more guys that are drawing from what’s available, the quicker it’s gone.”

And it’s not just Vineyard Wind.

“With Vineyard Wind and South Fork and all the others, we’re not talking about an inconvenience for a year or two. We’re talking 20 years until decommissioning. And then it starts all over again,” Gale said. “We’re talking a lifetime of inconvenience.”

The Gales and the fishermen’s trust see gaps in how the offshore wind industry is treating them.

In early March, Vineyard Wind announced the launch of the compensation program. Administered through a third party, the program provides compensation to commercial fishermen for economic impacts attributable to the project’s construction, operations, and decommissioning. Vineyard Wind says it’s a way of giving back to the industry.

“Throughout the development of Vineyard Wind 1, we have focused on building relationships with local fishing communities while ensuring that each of these vital industries can co-exist to the benefit of the entire Northeast region,” said Avangrid CEO Pedro Azagra at the time of the program announcement. “By launching this program we are making good on our promise to work with the fishing industry to address financial impacts related to the development of this project, and we encourage any commercial fishermen affected to apply for eligibility.”

Fishermen who are eligible will receive annual payments, and they have until June to submit an application. 

The program has broad support from state officials, leaders at the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, and division of marine fisheries.

But fishermen need to prove that they have fished the lease area for at least three years between 2016 and 2022 to be eligible. 

For the Gales and other Island fishermen, they haven’t fished that area. They say they won’t see a dime. And they believe they are being treated unfairly because they are impacted by the displacement of other boats.

“Now that they have this structure in place, it is fair to say that there are holes that other companies, including the next Vineyard Wind, should consider,” said Shelley Edmundson, executive director for the Martha’s Vineyard Fishermen’s Preservation Trust. 

One of the gaps, Edmundson says, is leaving out Vineyard fishermen. With Vineyard Wind leading the way on compensation programs and before other companies start construction, she says, there is room to learn and to do better. 

“As these other companies come in, we have to make sure we hold them to learning and changing … so that the same mistakes aren’t made over and over and over again,” Edmundson said.

John Keene, president of the trust, credits Vineyard Wind for listening to fishermen and setting up venues for people to talk and think things through. “They’ve listened,” he said.

But he also says there is room for improvement.

Keene says the industry shouldn’t have just a blanket, one-size-fits-all compensation program. Each lease area is different from the next. Some areas may be more heavily fished; some may be more important ecosystems, while others may be more transient areas.

Instead of a blanket program, Keene advocates for the creation of a review committee or board that consists of local fishermen, local residents, elected officials, and others that can review a potential compensation program and decide who is eligible for funding and how much. He says that will help ensure that fishing communities like the Vineyard will be treated more fairly. 

“We need to have a board set up with different walks of life that can determine situationally who gets what,” Keene said. “A cookie-cutter response isn’t working.” 

Keene says there should also be a fund set up for communities that are impacted by offshore wind, particularly with legal fees. He points to the Edgartown conservation commission — a board made up of volunteers — that spent hours reviewing plans for cables that now go through Muskeget Channel off Edgartown. The local ConCom originally rejected Vineyard Wind’s plans for the cables, but Vineyard Wind ultimately appealed the decision through the state, and won. 

Keene says that the local board had reasonable concerns, but they were overwhelmed with legal fees. He supports a proposal that would provide fees to towns like Edgartown, that may be more disproportionately affected by offshore wind. An advisory board could help oversee which communities might be more impacted.

Keene also hopes that compensation programs could do a better job helping the actual fishermen onboard boats. He says that compensation now goes to the license holder, which can often be an investment firm. Captains and crew may not see that money.

Vineyard Wind did not respond for a comment for this story, instead sharing a press release announcing the compensation program.

Back at Tashmoo landing on the Redemption, with Tegan Gale thinking about his future, the 17-year-old says he doesn’t know what he’s going to do when he graduates this summer. “I’m trying not to have my heart set on [fishing]. But at the same time, it’s my favorite thing in the world. It feels like what I’m supposed to do.” he said. “It’s what I know.”

Jason Gale, sitting next to him and looking at a blue sky over the harbor, says he’s nervous for his son. 

“I wouldn’t want to be a young buck starting out right now,” Gale says. “It’s the variables that we don’t know. It’s a little nerve-wracking.” 


  1. How is Vineyard Wind impacting local lobstermen?
    How much of of last years catch was taken from the wind farm area?
    Are they now prohibited from working the wind farm area?

    • It’s about the displaced lobstermen from the leased areas encroaching on areas they don’t typically fish. It’s the increased competition that wasn’t there before, therefore all area lobstermen are affected in one way or another.
      The state has a bill on the table that compensates every state lobster permit holder because of the seasonal right whale closures. The state recognizes the “displacement factor”. If vineyard wind 1 really wants to compensate, then they should do the same.

      • What was the total lobster catch in the wind farm exclusion zone the year before construction started?
        What was the net after direct operating expenses?
        That is how the much the fisherman should get.
        Just the fisherman with a proven (close enough) catch in the wind farm exclusion zone.

      • Jason– You make a good point. But the devil is
        always in the details. Like how does this all get split up?
        Let’s not think V.W should put up more money and just
        say the pie has to be split differently.
        I wonder if in fact V.W is actually causing $19 million
        in lost revenues. It certainly could be. But we all know
        that if the lobster fisheries are restricted in a certain area
        then the lobsters will grow bigger there. When these temporary
        restrictions are lifted , will we have a catch of heavier lobsters
        in that area? I would think so. So, if everyone is compensated
        equally, should the people who have permits for this area give
        some back when they are catching 2 pounders and everyone
        else is catching chickens ? And we do have to consider
        that this area is a breeding ground. More and larger lobsters
        in this area would produce more spat which would in turn
        produce more lobsters in the future.The point is that
        there may be some down the road benefits for everyone

    • They must have to move, or have their efficiency diminished, or else why would their be a compensation package for those previously fishing the area? And as fishermen are excluded or move from the wind farm area, they move their efforts into the surrounding waters – mostly inshore – right where our local fisherman have been fishing for decades. The concentration of fishermen into a smaller area is bad for them, and bad for the echo system – especially for bottom species like lobster, whelk and scallop.

      • What was the previous years fishing gross in the windfarm area less incremental operating expenses?
        Is it more than all the hot air of this discussion?
        Always a difficult number to determine.
        Fisherman tend to be reticent about where and how much they catch and where they sell and how much they get. It’s kind of like the real estate valuation scam, it depends on who is asking.
        The New Bedford Codfather comes to mind, he is a convicted felon.

  2. I feel bad that the Gales thought they would find sympathy from a publication that has been very clearly co-opted by the wind industry. So much so that they have taken to running off island publications’ wind romance stories like they did last week.
    The reality is that everyone on the island with a loud voice and a position of power is overly enchanted with the wind farms and backed up with a small army of Kellerites in the comment sections to boot. When will we wake up and realize that “environmentalism” in its current form is just another religion with its reverently blind followers who refuse to look at issues from more than two sides and who are willing to ruin the economy in the name of maybe effecting the environment around us in a beneficial way? The future of planet is either a) beyond our control and out of our hands b) too late to impact or c) just maybe enough that if we lay off half the economy and all sit in the dark at night we will see a 0.1 degree C decrease in temperature in the next 100 years.
    I’m betting on A or B. And I’m hoping that for Tegan’s sake, that the people who believe in C will wake up sometime real soon.

    • Luis, I would encourage you to do the math on building your own home solar system. Don’t do it for “environmental romance” stories, do it because it will save you a ton of money. Take out a loan, install a system, exit the grid, and in about three years you’ll have your loan paid off and then have free electricity for the rest of your life. Use the savings to take a trip around the world, eat at fancy restaurants, buy gorgeous diamonds, invest in gold, donate to charity, or whatever else suits your fancy.

      • I agree with you, to an extent. I’d have a $25-30k tree removal bill to foot before solar would make any sense on my house. Based on speaking with a bunch of different solar contractors I’ve spoken with: the tree removal costs basically kills the economics of the project. And I’m sure that killing all these trees would also piss off the people who like to hug them. Wish I could win, but the “experts” say I can’t.

        • Luis, so sorry that a solar project isn’t feasible for you. It happens. That is one reason why the commercial windmill projects are so important to the grid. It isn’t likely that you could have a windmill big enough on your own property to generate enough electricity to power your home, but maybe you could have one or two small windmills to generate some electricity. You might even be able to sell it back to the power company. Every little bit helps!

        • Wish you could piss on alternate energy but the “experts” say you can’t?

          Is the tree the only thing keeping from solar or is it something more visceral?

      • Not sure where your math comes from but the average payback period for a solar installation is more like 7-10 years. You’ll save on average around $3K a year. Not exactly “trip around the world” or “gorgeous diamonds” territory. Depending on your house your roof may need to be replaced first or when it eventually does need to be replaced it’s certainly much more expensive to detach and then reinstall the panels. Then again the virtual signaling you will gain for trying to save the planet is priceless!

        • Well John, whomever you asked for a quote must have bid you high or you have a small and enviable power bill now. Most people will experience an ROI of about 3 years (especially if they do a little of their own work and shop around for components—you don’t have to take the first package offered by a solar company, you can buy off eBay).

    • Luis–I am quite honored that you have coined a word using my name to
      describing the efforts of a “small army” of people who are interested in actual facts.
      But let me address your comment about environmentalism being
      “just another religion”. As far as I know, the very definition of religion
      is based on faith in a higher power, and has no factual basis.
      One has to have faith in nearly every tennant of the beliefs.
      Once in a while true believers can quote an ancient book or roll out
      a well worn mantra, like “god is great” or “Jesus loves you”, and then
      everyone can justify whatever it is that they are doing to suppress
      the non believers.
      Sorry, but the environmental movement has little to do with religion
      and everything to do with emphatical facts–verifiable stuff—.
      We know for instance that the carbon concentration of the atmosphere
      is increasing.
      We know the reason for that.
      We know the consequences of that and indeed we have empirical
      evidence to support the concept of those consequences.
      We know the oceans are being polluted with plastic and various chemicals.
      We know there is a mass extinction event occurring as we speak, and we know
      the reason for it.
      We don’t need any faith to show us any of this. We have actual facts that guide
      the formation of our opinions.

      Others however throw out things they believe but have no evidence to
      back up.
      Like “environtalism is ruining the economy” .
      Windmills cause cancer
      Windmills kill whales.
      Sea level is not rising
      The 2020 election was stolen.
      There is no evidence to support any of those 5 examples.
      That’s religion in a nutshell.
      One believes it because one believes it.
      No need to look at facts.

      And then, in classic doublespeak, the purveyors of
      unsubstantiated “alternative facts” and beliefs accuse those
      who are guided by actual facts of blindly following something
      akin to religious beliefs.

      • Don, when it comes to religion and climate change there doesn’t seem to be shortages of opinions and I guess facts. I’m not trying to pick a fight but haven’t we seen history demonstrate that what we believed as scientific fact has been disproven with new technology? Climate change is real and we are foolish not to deal with it but the question is how. Do we try and alter Mother Nature or mitigate through building for the coming challenges? I would greatly appreciate your opinion on the the following environmentalist with stellar credentials as to how co2 and our atmosphere coincide. Feel free to email me if the times won’t post it.
        At the risk of embarrassing myself this is exactly why I think many people are skeptical as to WHY THE CLIMATE IS CHANGING. Thanks Keller.

        • When it comes to religion what are the facts?
          One fact is that the monotheists do a bang up job of killing each other.

          We know WHY THE CLIMATE IS CHANGING. The composition of the atmosphere is changing. The discussion of the cause lacks uniformity.

          We have altered mother nature by our existence. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The reaction can be harmful to mankind. Should we address it?

    • The Island is clearly pro alternate energy, the naysayers are few and loud.
      Interesting take on religion…

    • Luis, You mentioned that you fear in scenario C that we might have to lay off half the economy. Just want to remind people that if electricity becomes so inexpensive that it hovers near zero, that will change what people and businesses are able to accomplish. For instance, the Chinese have installed massive solar farms in the western part of China, which pays for the electricity to build solar panels to sell to the US. That is one of the reasons that solar panels have consistently dropped in price.
      What would happen to a restaurant’s profits if it didn’t have an electric bill?
      How about a dry cleaners business?
      Saudia Arabia is building a massive renewable energy project.

      We will not destroy our economy by using renewable energy!! Exactly the opposite!

    • Thank you, Luis Alesenda.

      Re ” So much so that they have taken to running off island publications’ wind romance stories like they did last week.” Brought a smile to my face.

      I noted that the paper set up a straw man to battle, a la Don Quixote charging at windmills ((:-)), decrying rumors circulating on social media as the enemy of the “the climate truth.”
      Humans have always circulated rumors.
      Nowadays they do it on social media.
      Big deal.

      The authors of the story did not, however, as far as I could see, engage with the thousands of *actual climate and other scientists* who challenge the main premises of the global warming / CO2 narrative that underlies the push for alternative energy development (and consequent industrialization of the oceans), and provide plenty of evidence to support their own hypotheses.

      “Consensus” science is not science.

  3. Keller actual facts do not negate the concept of a religion. The Christian religion has all manner of facts if you really wanted to research it. 2.3 billion people believe Jesus died and rose again. Environmentalism is a religion since it reflects a certainty that a proposition is true. You are certain about your religion of climate change and the damage people are doing; and you pursue your agenda with great passion. Nothing wrong with that. Other people suggest ”forget the “science is settled’’ mantra. Unfortunately, the debate over energy is dominated by agenda-driven outbursts and misleading statistics, from activists and governmental officials alike. And some here on these posts.” There are plenty of people who are experts who disagree with you on so called facts and they aren’t just people named ”andy”

    • Andrew, you can’t argue about climate change with mountains that no longer have glaciers on them for the first time in recorded history. You can’t argue with the dead lobsters 🦞 in the Sound who are no longer there.

  4. This year has been like no other and Vineyard Wind is a problem along with all offshore wind projects. Yes, we are facing a terrible future but offshore wind is increasing costs of energy, it is not going to effectively reduce Co2 overall, and it is a problem to fishermen, and so forth and so on. As I read the comments on this outfit I wondered how we are doing at reducing Co2 and so pulled up the latest figures. Shocking. Almost beyond belief what is happening. The latest increase for March of this year compared to last year is this. 426.44 – 420.78 = 5.66 parts per million Co2 increase. In 2009 the IPCC was expecting a rise by now of 3 ppm. It is almost double if these numbers are right.

    Numbers matter. This is almost beyond belief. What you are looking at is an increase for March of this year of 5.66 parts per million. In 2009 the IPCC International Panel on Climate Change did a study to try to find out what the planet would be exposed to in the futre and came up with a deadly answer that by this time we would be looking at an probable increase of Co2 to 3 ppm per year.

    It happened. We did pass that milestone and it is simply increasing from there. Are these figures right? Because if they are we just had a month of 5.66 ppm which we might be expected to possibly reach in a century or so.

    A very unusual winter with warmth in Vermont, floods and sand washed away all as a result of fossil fuels, wars and bombs, and no end in sight. Yes we need to reduce Co2, but in reality we are looking at a losing battle. Co2 is created by energy. If one takes a graph of World Gross Product – the sum of all economic activity since the industrial revolution, it roughly parallels the increase of Co2 and we always want to increase world economy which is the driving force. We have gone from billions to trillions to hundreds of trillions and Co2 increases with every energy increase. We cannot, it is impossible, to reduce our carbon footprint with offshore wind and it is a travesty to our oceans and impacts our fisheremen. Solar panels on roofs and on wide swaths of land are practical and effective.

    It is a debatable technology. Do we really want to pay more for power, look at towers and wind turbines, reduce our fisheries, impact our ocean views with a failing industry – and it is failing in terms of expectations to reduce our Co2. It is a noble idea in a way, but it is also problematical. Solar power works. But no mitigation can overcome World Gross Product and if we want to reduce Co2 to a level we had at the beginning of the industrial revolution we need to reduce our footprint and economies AND increase solar to an almost total source of energy. It is simply not about to magically happen. If we are to support offshore wind, our energy costs should be reduced dramatically for the privilege of this experiment.

    • Frank is a very reasonable man on the post above. He does his numbers and suggests n amount of flaying is going to make a change. But some people dont want to increase world economic output.

    • Frank–I am consistently perplexed when people say
      the wind generated electricity is causing the price of
      all electricity to go up.
      Here is some simple math that pretty much explains why that
      is a false narrative. I wrote this o this forum about 2 weeks ago :

      “The 5 turbines that V.W has up and running produce
      about 1/2 of one percent of the power to the grid
      on a good day. They have been operational for about 2
      months. How much of a drop in your electric bill do you
      think you are going to see ? They could give it away
      and you wouldn’t see any change. Conversely if they were
      putting it in for a dollar a kwh it wouldn’t make any difference.
      By the way, they are selling it for 9 cents per KWH, which
      is below the 15 cent per KWH average that suppliers are getting.”

      But I agree with you about the problem of actually
      reducing the amount of fossil fuels that are being burned.
      We can build windmills and solar panels until the cows come home,
      but it is meaningless if we continue to burn ever more oil.

    • Frank, here’s a quote attributed to Andrew Forrest, Chief Engineer at Solstad Offshore:
      “When you start talking about offshore wind turbine, the figures look even better. The average offshore wind turbine is 3.6 MW in capacity and delivers 2.2 times more energy than its land locked brother thanks to lack of surface features which mess with the wind velocity. This results in the average offshore wind turbine saving the equivalent of 58 barrels of oil per day.”

      58 Barrels A DAY! Except, I would like to point out that Vineyard Wind windmills should be producing about 13 megawatts, not 3.6 megawatts from Andrew’s example. Using his example, it would translate to 16.1 megawatts per barrel. So that would save more than 209 Barrels a day from EACH windmill from Vineyard Wind.
      Each Barrel emits 426.10 kg CO2 per 42-gallon barrel.

      So each Vineyard Wind windmill is saving about 89,055 kg of CO2 per day.

      (Could we have a local engineer verify the number?),gallon%20barrel%20(EPA%202023b).

  5. The fisherman should urge his 17 year old son to pick another profession in which the status quo doesnt remain quo. Get a trade like plumber or electrician which is a portable skill and can be practiced anywhere and wherein you make a very good living.

    • Carl, couldn’t agree more! The North Sea, The Gulf of Mexico, The Caspian Sea, The Kara Sea, The Persian Gulf, The Baltic Sea; they’re all full of oil rigs and it’s a travesty.

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