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Projects seek to unite offshore energy, fishing community 



ORONO — The Northeast Sea Grant Consortium, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Energy Technologies Office and Water Power Technologies Office and NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center, has announced six projects to advance social science and technology research on offshore renewable energy in the Northeast. 

This funding opportunity, first announced in March 2021, seeks to catalyze research for the coexistence of marine energy, including wind, current, tidal and wave energies, with Northeast fishing and coastal communities. The partnership applies the Sea Grant model to connect science and tools directly with communities and ocean users.  

The selected two-year projects were collectively awarded over $1.1 million in federal funds, with each project matching 50 percent in nonfederal funds.  

Projects 

  • 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 tool kit 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.  

To 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. 

 

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