California fishing industry, offshore wind groups form corporation

The MBCFO represents the working men and women of Morro Bay, California’s waterfront. (Courtesy: Morrow Bay Commercial Fishermen’s Organization)

The Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen’s Organization (MBCFO), the Port San Luis Commercial Fisherman’s Association (PSLCFA), and Castle Wind LLC (Castle Wind), a joint venture between Trident Winds Inc. and TotalEnergies Renewables USA are forming the Morro Bay Lease Areas Mutual Benefits Corporation (Morro Bay MBC).

The purpose of the Morro Bay MBC is to facilitate communication, coordination, and cooperation between the California Central Coast commercial fishing industry and offshore wind project developers, as well as to provide financial resources in furtherance of California Coastal Act policies.

Morro Bay MBC creates a pathway for the industry to demonstrate to the fishermen and fishing communities, to BOEM, and to the California Coastal Commission, the commitment of project developers to responsible offshore wind development that protects and supports a sustainable commercial fishing industry.

“We recognize the imperative behind developing our offshore wind resource for the benefit of all Californians and appreciate that developers like Castle Wind understand the importance of minimizing and compensating for the possible impacts of the offshore wind farms off Morro Bay on the fishing community,” said Tom Hafer, President of the MBCFO. “The newly formed Morro Bay MBC will help ensure that the Central Coast fishing industry is meaningfully included in the development of this new industry.”

“We, as a humanity, are facing a climate emergency and have to put all our efforts towards achieving a clean energy future,” said Alla Weinstein, CEO of Castle Wind LLC. “With any energy project of this magnitude, there are likely to be impacts. Our approach has been to acknowledge, as early as possible, that impacts may occur, which is why we have been working directly with the Central Coast fishermen since the inception of Castle Wind. By establishing the Morro Bay MBC at this early stage in the process, Castle Wind has created a platform for the developers to mitigate anticipated impacts of offshore wind to the commercial fishing industry without causing stakeholder fatigue.”

The Morro Bay MBC furthers the 2018 mutual benefits agreement signed by MBCFO, PSLCFA, and Castle Wind, which was exclusive to the three signatories. The Morro Bay MBC’s structure is open to all project developers who will secure site leases in the Morro Bay Wind Energy Area, and to fishermen that can prove they have been fishing in that area even if they are not members of MBCFO or PSLCFA.

The board of the newly-formed organization – which includes two representatives from each MBCFO and PSCFA, two representatives from Castle Wind, two seats for representatives from other project developers, and one Harbor Master – will be working together to encourage other project developers to join the Morro Bay MBC prior to the upcoming lease auction.