Ntnl Fisherman OpEd Blog

Whatever Happened to “Fair & Balanced” Reporting?

An Open Letter to National Fisherman Magazine

This is NOT a normal blog post. It is a word for word copy of a letter I submitted to National Fisherman Magazine after attending a webinar they recently hosted. Now to be honest, this is the 5th or 6th draft of the letter. The last had to be edited by my wife and partner Troy to remove the “salty” language.

I encourage everyone to read, post your comments, and call, or write National Fisherman Magazine yourself.

Ready? Here goes …..

National Fisherman Magazine
P.O. Box 7438
Portland, ME 04112

Dear Editor,

On January 21, 2021, I listened to the webinar you hosted titled: “Where We Stand: Offshore Wind and the U.S. Commercial Fishing Industry.” 

I gotta’ tell ya’ – Not only was I as disappointed, but I was angered as it ended.  If National Fisherman Magazine wants to preserve its reputation as an accurate source of information for the fishing industry, it needs to avoid such one-sided presentations with opinions not supported by facts.

Your speakers only gave a one-sided view. Very much like the current national discourse in the news media, it was completely biased.

  • Why didn’t you have at least one fisherman on the panel that supports Offshore Wind?
  • Why didn’t you allow text comments, take questions, or open it up to other participants?
  • Where were the For-Hire fishermen & boat owners?

I mean, “the “For-Hire” industry reads your publication and their livelihoods are made on the water too. Is the name of your publication National Fisherman or is it National Commercial Fisherman?

Why didn’t you have any of the aforementioned on this Webinar?
It is because RODA and ROSA have you in a corner and are forcing your hand in pushing a narrative?
I mean you had the same people on your webinar as they do on theirs. No actual discussion, no difference of opinion or interaction other than that of an echo-chamber.

Now to be fair, the speakers on the panel didn’t directly throw Offshore Wind under the bus, but the subliminal message was certainly there. The message that Offshore Wind doesn’t care about commercial fishermen is JUST A BOLD FACE LIE. I was pretty alarmed and annoyed by the end of it and felt it imperative to go on the record and put this in writing.

Offshore Wind Developers really do want to work closely with fishermen and all other stakeholders for the matter, and they are working really hard at it.

  • They send out weekly email notifications with Onboard Fisheries Liaison Name and Cell numbers so fishermen can call the Fisheries Liaisons directly while offshore.
  • They hold Joint Developer Port Hours in New Bedford, MA, Point Judith, RI, Stonington, CT, Montauk, NY and other [laces in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.
  • They hold weekly hotline vigils open for anyone to call.
  • They make routine port visits for individual fisherman outreach.
  • They support and participate with RODA (Responsible Offshore Development Alliance)  & ROSA (Responsible Offshore Science Alliance).
  • They support and contract compliant fishing vessels for “Scout & Security” work, equaling more JOBS.

What More Can They Do?
Fly Planes and Air Drop Leaflets?

I was an Offshore Wind hater when they built the Block Island Turbines, but rather than sit on my butt and bitch about it, I decided to get involved so I could learn the truth. Why?

…. Because I grew up in the fishing business – I worked my tail off in it for 30 years. BOTH of my grandfathers were fishermen and the family fishing business is in the 4th generation. I’ve owned For Hire Fishing Boats, a Scalloper, a Few Longliners, a Fish Trap Vessel and Deep Drop Boat.

  • My brother in the business,
  • I have a son in the business
  • I have a nephew in the business. 
  • I have 3 first cousins in the business 
  • I have 7 second cousins in the business in one way, shape or form.

So You Can Obviously See I Had A Real Interest In Learning The Truth.

It took a few years, but I managed to get a captain job on an Offshore Wind Survey vessel.
I figured if Offshore Wind was half as bad as the bullshit that was being spread around, I would be in the perfect position to drop a massive depth charge and blow it all right out of the water.

So I spent the next 18 months running an Offshore Wind Survey Vessel gaining valuable boots on the ground / hands-on / inside knowledge learning the truth and spent countless hours in the survey shack.

You want to talk to someone who really knows what’s going on?
Talk to me.

Last year, I had 8 Fishermen working on Offshore Wind Survey Vessels as Fisheries Liaison Officers. All very accomplished boat captains and crew members. These guys ran big boats and are well known and respected within the fishing community and are Thrilled To Be Working On The Water Again.

Let Me Share A Few Cold Hard Facts For 2020

I had SIX fishermen on SIX different survey vessels from Massachusetts, to NY Bight, and down to the Virginia/ North Carolina border and I had TWO vessels performing Scout and Security work in the NY Bight area.

  • Over 873 Survey Days
  • 114,772 Survey KM (71,316 miles)
  • 714 vessel crossings requiring radio contact. (Normal every day communication)
  • 265 crossings with commercial fishing vessels actually fishing. ALL of which were courteous, professional, friendly, and non-confrontational.
  • ZERO negative interactions with any commercial vessels. Repeat: ZERO Negative Interactions.

The fallacy that the offshore wind guys just don’t care about the fisherman is pure bunk (B.S.). 
I can go into great detail of every boat that was observed transiting or fishing in the area. Including the ones not transmitting on AIS.

Now to be honest, the survey boats did have THREE gear encounters:

  • TWO of them were with ghost gear. The gear was retrieved, returned to the dock and the Shore Side Fisheries Liaison reached out to the gear owner. (I do not know if they retrieved it or not.)
  • ONE tangle with an end buoy of a lobster trawl. The buoy was untangled and returned to the water. Multiple attempts were made to contact the gear owner who would not return calls. However, he was observed working the gear the following week in the same area.

In summary, I applaud National Fisherman for doing a webinar – however, you might want to consider having a few different speakers than the same ones as RODA and ROSA. Your readers and subscribers deserve to hear both sides so they can make informed decisions of their own.

If you want to talk to someone with direct – hands on experience and knowledge on both sides of the issue, just ask.

Thank you for your time.

Paul Forsberg
Co-Founder: Offshore Wind Farm Support, LLC.

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