by Michael Conathan
Earlier this week, Cape Wind—a proposed wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts—quietly turned aside one of its few remaining challenges by coming to a landmark agreement with the Martha’s Vineyard/Dukes County Fishermen’s Association, which had filed a challenge to the project because fishermen feared they would be displaced from traditional fishing grounds. This compromise helps the project move forward, keeps fishermen in business, and shows how a new concept known as ocean-use planning will be fundamental to future management of our ocean space.
As a result of the settlement, Cape Wind agreed to work with the fishermen to ensure they retain access to the area where the wind farm has been permitted and help them set up a permit bank that will own fishing permits for use by Vineyard fishermen in perpetuity.
Think of permit banks like Zipcar for fishermen. A group—fishermen, nongovernmental organizations, or in some cases, states—acquires permits for a fishing area and then leases the affiliated access or quota to eligible participants. Here, participants will be Vineyard fishermen who might otherwise lose their access due to regulators reducing catch limits for certain species rebuilding to sustainable levels. Fewer fish to catch means fewer ...