Deepwater Wind Liaison Named
As Deepwater Wind begins a two-year process of applying for permits to construct and operate a 15-turbine wind farm approximately 36 miles off Montauk, the Town of East Hampton’s fisheries advisory committee has chosen Julie Evans, the captain of a charter boat based in Montauk, as its liaison to the Rhode Island company.
Ms. Evans is to be the fishing industry’s primary person for communicating with Deepwater Wind. The company will fund her work, but she will not be directly employed by it and instead will work on behalf of the local fishing fleet. The company anticipates the position will involve approximately 5 to 10 hours a week.
An unsuccessful candidate for town trustee last fall, Ms. Evans has been an outspoken advocate for fishing interests. She and her late husband ran the Daybreaker, fishing for striped bass, from the mid-1970s until the state prohibited striped bass fishing in 1986. She holds a Coast Guard license to carry passengers for hire and has a degree in journalism and environmental science from New York University. A member of the Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee, she headed a technical advisory committee for a state-mandated Lake Montauk watershed report.
According to the advisory committee, Ms. Evans will work with Deepwater Wind to develop communication and mitigation plans for the proposed South Fork Wind Farm. The work is to include methods of communication between Deepwater Wind and the commercial fishing industry, the frequency and duration of that communication, and mitigation strategies for all stages of the wind farm’s construction and operation. “We look forward to the town board supporting the selection of Capt. Evans in this role,” a letter from the committee reads.
Deepwater Wind has struggled to find a fisheries representative, as sentiment among those in the town’s commercial fishing fleet has been that it would be disloyal for one of their own to work on behalf of a project they believe threatens their livelihood.
“We appreciate that the Montauk fishing community has identified someone for this important role, and we’re confident that having a fishing rep on-board will deepen our outreach with the local fishing community,” Jennifer Garvey, Deepwater Wind’s Long Island development manager, said in a statement by email yesterday. “We look forward to working with Captain Evans.”
At the East Hampton Town Board’s work session on Tuesday, Robert Valenti, the fisheries committee’s vice chairman, introduced Ms. Evans and asked for a $30,000 stipend to employ an assistant to do research. “Who’s fishing what areas, how much they’ve been catching, how long they’ve been out there, and assorted information which is going to be necessary to put this mitigation and outreach plan into effect,” is how he described the research. “I don’t think we can expect Julie to do all of that alone.”
“My job is to facilitate good communication between Deepwater Wind and our committee and protect fishing grounds for fishermen,” Ms. Evans told the town board. “Fishermen are under the gun in many different ways.” The proposed wind farm, she said, “is an added burden at this time. We’re behind at this point, so we do need the money so we can move forward quickly.”
The board was supportive of Ms. Evans’s selection. “I’m very pleased we now have a liaison, and a very appropriate one,” Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said, describing a town fisheries representative as having been missing as Deepwater Wind had multiple meetings with the town trustees and its harbor management committee. With respect to the stipend, the board “agrees that’s something we could fund. We’re going to give you the support you need to be successful,” the supervisor said.
The company had offered the town and the trustees a community benefits package last year; the trustees countered with a considerably larger request for financial assistance and other commitments last month.
The fishery is a renewable resource, the supervisor said. “We also have renewable energy, which we are promoting. Sustainability is really important for our species at this time. Balancing those two to make sure they’re in alignment with our overall goals is really important.”