Offshore Wind Seen as Lucrative Side Gig Option for US Fishermen, Mariners

Credit: Pavlo Glazkov/AdobeStock
Credit: Pavlo Glazkov/AdobeStock

The growing U.S. offshore wind industry will offer "a substantial number of opportunities" for the local fishermen and mariners to supplement their income, a study commissioned by the New York State Economic Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), has found.

The study – compiled by The Renewables Consulting Group (RCG) – concluded that as the offshore wind industry grows, the option for mariners to supplement their income will become available during all phases of a project’s lifecycle.

Based on current Northeastern US offshore wind commitments alone, the study shows that offshore wind can support 2,600 job years of supplemental work for fishermen and other mariners.

"The vast experience of the Northeastern maritime industry is well-known and interested mariners should be considered for jobs in this growing industry. In fact, the offshore wind industry has already seen the benefits of tapping into the experience of fishermen and other mariners to support
development activities," RCG said.

“Fisherman and other mariners already possess the skills that will be essential in building out the emerging US offshore wind industry,” said Emily Kuhn, Principal at RCG. “With minimal training needed to close gaps and transfer knowledge, recruiting these fishermen and mariners to assist with
projects can benefit all sides. Not only will mariners have access to supplemental jobs and income, but the offshore wind industry will have increased access to a local, talented workforce.” Credit: RCG

Fishermen have already been hired for liaison positions, and fishing vessels are currently being used for surveys, for scientific data collection, and as scout vessels to prevent conflict between offshore wind activities and vessel traffic or fishing gear.

New York State is leading the nation with its commitment to develop 9,000 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind power by 2035. Many different offshore wind projects will contribute to this target, with the first phase of projects anticipated to be operational by the mid-2020s, RCG said.

The commitment of New York, along with that of other Northeastern states, will lead to a total of 23.3 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind built by 2035. The offshore wind build-out scenario used for this study is based on the procurement schedules of states in the northeast (New Jersey, New York,
Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts) as well as data from RCG’s Global Renewable Infrastructure Projects database (GRIP).

Jobs that employ entire vessels in the offshore wind industry align well with the vessels specs in the New York Bight and include fish surveys, mammal and bird surveys, safety vessels, scout vessels, and charter fishing, sight-seeing, and tourism, RCG added.

According to the results of the analysis, jobs that employ entire vessels comprise most of the supplemental work available. This type of work may be particularly appealing to local vessel owners/operators because they would be more likely to keep captains, crews, and vessels together
without removing talented crew from their vessels. 

A variety of full-time and part-time offshore wind jobs were evaluated in the study; however, the analysis focused mainly on the supplemental or part-time work available, RCG said.

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