East Hampton Town’s Fisheries Committee has selected Captain Julie Evans, who has worked on commercial and charter boats out of Montauk for decades, to be the Fisheries Representative working for local fishermens’ interests with regard to Deepwater Wind’s proposed South Fork Wind Farm project off the coast of Montauk.
Ms. Evans began fishing for striped bass commercially in 1975, but became a charter boat captain after the commercial striped bass fishery was put out of business by PCB contamination, she told the East Hampton Town Board at their March 6 meeting. She has also worked as a journalist and used her background in environmental science to help run ecotours.
“My job here is to facilitate good communication between Deepwater Wind and the fishing community, and to protect fishing grounds for fishermen,” she said. “I’m not in an adversarial position. I hope to make things happen.”
While Ms. Evans’ position would be paid for by Deepwater Wind, she would be working on behalf of the fishing community, as stipulated in the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s best practices.
The town’s Fisheries Committee is also looking for a $30,000 stipend to hire a researcher to compile data on “who’s fishing in what areas, what they’re catching and what’s out there,” said the committee’s vice chairman, Robert Valenti, at the March 6 work session.
“I don’t think we can ask Julie Evans to do this alone,” he said.
The town’s fisheries consultant, Arnold Leo, added that the data gathered would be useful in his work representing the local fishing industry at the regional fisheries management meetings he attends.
Gary Cobb of Springs, who represents local inshore fishermen, urged the board to push for more studies of the effects electromagnetic fields can have on nearshore fisheries, especially in the area near Deepwater Wind’s proposed cable landing site in Wainscott. He urged the board to work with the few remaining dory fishermen here on surveys of their catches, including baitfish that may be impacted by the cable.
Anthony Sosinski, who runs the lobster boat Anna Mary out of Montauk with his partner John Aldridge, said he is concerned that the offshore wind farm is just the beginning of a huge industry off the coast.
“They’re putting infrastructure out in the Atlantic Ocean in a place that has never seen this, ever,” he said. “They’re going to disturb the environment in the ocean like no one ever has before.”
“I’m pleased that we actually have a liaison, and a very appropriate one,” said Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc, who added that he supports the $30,000 stipend. “This is part of what’s been missing. It’s critically important to protecting not just the fishermen’s interests, but all of our interests… It’s not a small task by any means but it’s a very important one.”
“We’re very cognizant that fisheries are a renewable resource that are worth protecting,” he added. “We also have renewable energy, which is a renewable resource we are promoting. Sustainability is really important for our species at this point in time. The balance between those two is so in alignment with our overall goals.”
“The whole world is watching this project,” said Ms. Evans. “This is the first big one. Let’s do it right.”