Public Perception Header

The Difference Between Law, Business, 
Doing The Right Thing, and the 
Law of “Public Perception.”

An Open Letter To Anyone Involved In Offshore Wind at Any Level

The Rule of Law: is a principle under which all persons, institutions, and entities are accountable to laws that are: Publicly promulgated. Equally enforced. Independently adjudicated. And consistent with international human rights principles.

The Rule of Business: to provide a product or service and make a profit without taking advantage of others. 

The Law of Doing The Right Thing: We do the right thing because we have a strong conviction to do so, not because someone tells us to do so.
Doing the right thing (Ethics) is part of an organization’s culture.

The Law of Public Perception: The truth of a company or industry is in what the public perceives it to be. What they do and how they act toward other stakeholders and user groups. When a company “does the right thing,” public perception and acceptance is automatic. A company that ”does the right thing” generally always has the court of public opinion behind them and seldom faces headwinds from the public or politics.

When It Comes To Offshore Wind:

  • When you look at it in the rule of Law: it’s coming and nothing is going to stop it.
  • When you look at it as a business: it will provide jobs and profit. 
  • When you look at it through the eyes of “doing the right thing”: the developers and the people involved in Offshore Wind believe in their hearts they are doing the right thing. 
  • When you look at it in the Law of Public Perception: a lot could be done very quickly to lessen the point of contention and alter the course and velocity of the headwinds.

I know this first hand because I deal with both sides of the isle on a daily basis.
In fact, last year wrote a White-Paper about it and submitted it to all of the Offshore Wind Developers. It offers immediate and easily attainable solutions to what amounts to about 80% of the problems Offshore Wind faces.

Want a copy of the White Paper?  > Download it Here <. At the end of this article I will be offering an immediate and easily affordable  solution to what amounts to 80% of the contention regarding question two. 

Over the past 24 months, I’ve been asked hundreds of questions from fishermen and mariners up and down the coast and 95% of the time, TWO of the same questions com up.

Why are there foreign flagged vessels performing survey work inside US waters while there are literally thousands of US vessels fully capable of doing it?
I’m not going to touch Question #1 in this post, but to the best of my knowledge, no US Laws are intentionally being broken. The rest is up for debate and I fully expect it to come out soon enough.  (See The Law of Public Perception).

Why are there NO Fisherman Observers on Offshore Wind vessels south of New Jersey?

This is a really good question and I wish I had an answer. I can only tell you what I know to be true and what I’ve been told.

What I Know To Be True: Currently, NONE of the survey vessels south of New Jersey have Fishermen Observers onboard, yet they all have 5 or more Protected Species Observers (Whale, Dolphin and Turtle Watchers). I realize their task is different, but are the turtles and whales more important than the fishermen?

Did you know about 90% of the PSO’s onboard the survey vessels come from other countries? Yep – Whales, Turtles, Dolphin are being watched by people from other countries and almost NONE of them Americans.

Wait … There’s More!
Each survey vessel has 5 PSO’s onboard and let me tell you how they work.
The lead PSO normally works at night and listens for whales on a headset because it’s dark out (not kidding) while two others look up at the stars and out into the darkness. (can’t make it up). During the day, two others take turns working 2 hours on and 2 hours off (to rest their eyes). Let me do a little quick math for you: The 5 PSO’s from other countries work an average of 4.8 hrs per day. Really?

OOPS – I’m getting off track – lets circle back to Fishermen on Offshore Wind Vessels

What I’ve Been Told: 

1) The boats don’t have enough room on them for Fisheries Observers. REALLY? The same boats doing survey work south of Martha’s Vineyard are the same boats doing the survey work from New Jersey and they have plenty of room when they are off the Vineyard!

2) There isn’t enough fishing action down that way to justify having fishermen on the boat so the developers decided that having fisheries liaisons on land is good enough. Really?  The Fisheries Liaisons on land are great people, have extensive fishing knowledge and do a wonderful job, but they are not physically offshore so the law of “Public Perception” is missing !
The areas to the south do have scout boats perusing the area in front of the survey vessels and the effort has been working out well for the developers.

The Perception is …
The Wind Developers Just Don’t Care About The Fishermen.

Two years ago I was captain on a survey vessel. When we were south of Martha’s Vineyard, we had a Fisherman Observer onboard. We were instructed to drop him off in New Bedford before heading down to Norfolk to another field.

Same boat, same crew, same PSO’s but no Fisherman Observer and we could have used him because I had to do two jobs!

The shore-side liaison was a good guy and did a great job communicating with the fishermen onshore, but the fact of the matter is, the fishing boats I personally interacted with while running the survey vessel were very happy to have the ability to talk with someone with fishing knowledge on the water! The information we exchanged went a long way in building a positive rapport and public perception.

Doing The Right Thing and The Law Of Perception
Go Together Like Peas and Carrots

I got into this business because I believe in Offshore Wind and wanted to do my part to help fishermen get into it. Lord knows the fishing industry isn’t what it once was and Offshore Wind is a perfect opportunity for fishermen to remain mariners on the water. Their skills, knowledge and abilities gained over the years is irreplaceable and they can help train future generations!

I appreciate the fact that all Developers have a land based Fisheries Liaison, but why in the world are the fishermen refused a representative onboard the vessel? If the Whales are important enough to have FIVE people looking out for them, Why In The World Can’t The Fishermen Have ONE?

Projections are:  $200 BILLION DOLLARS will be invested in Offshore Wind between 2020 and 2025. The cost of “Doing the Right Thing” for Offshore Wind Developers is nothing more than a rounding error and will go a very long way with Public Perception.(

So now we’re close to the end of this article and it’s time for me to keep my word and offer a quick, painless and highly affordable solution and here it is:

I propose every single Offshore Wind Developer place a minimum of one experienced fisherman on every single Offshore Wind vessel. (It should be 1 for every 12 hour period the vessel is working).  Simply put, if a PSO is required on a vessel, then a FLO should be aboard as well.

Download the White-Paper for more detail: >Click Here<

The results of this simple strategy would be immediate. 
The law of “Doing the Right Thing” and the Law of Public Perception would be much better, and my guess is organizations such as RODA (Responsible Offshore Development Alliance) and  ROSA (Responsible Offshore Scientific Alliance) would feel much better about Offshore Wind.

Thanks for reading – I’d love to hear your side of the story. Leave your comments below!