Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


Marine Affairs

First Advisor

David Bidwell


There are more than a dozen lease sites designated for the implementation of offshore wind energy generation from Massachusetts to the coast of North Carolina, yet the long-term impacts of these large wind farms on the domestic commercial fishing industry are largely unknown. There has been opposition from commercial fishermen regarding offshore wind development in the United States, and design and configuration of turbines has been significant topic of concern. The purpose of this research is to understand commercial fishermen’s views on the configuration of offshore wind farms. An anonymous online survey was used to assess commercial fishermen’s preferences on grid type, layout, and footprint. Each design feature was coupled with a set of Likert scale questions addressing to what extent risk factors of safety concerns, gear entanglements, and loss of landings influenced their decisions. By making this data accessible and comprehensive, developers have the opportunity to learn more about the historical habits of their regional commercial fishing industry as well as other potential existing uses of the ocean space.

Descriptive statistics demonstrated that for the most part, the respondents of this survey preferred design features that were consistent with the current proposed layout from the New England developers (1nm grid going East/West). However, a major finding of this research demonstrated that the basis by which the five developers agreed on the standardized 1 nautical mile grid – to reduce gear conflicts by following the same pattern as the regional fixed gear/mobile gear agreement - was the reason why the grid was dispreferred by survey respondents. Additionally, this research indicated that for a single proposed design, different perceived risks can simultaneously make the layout component more and less desirable depending on which risks the respondent values higher. This further demonstrates the incredibly complex nature of how design can impact perception of risk and should further stress the importance of cooperation and information sharing between the offshore wind and commercial fishing industry. This research is conducted in cooperation with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA), the New England Fisheries Management Council, as well as the Commercial Fishing Center of Rhode Island (CFCRI).



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