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Collaborative Fisheries Planning for Virginia's Offshore Wind Energy Area


To prepare for future development of wind energy facilities off the coast of Virginia, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy (DMME), and Virginia Coastal Zone Management (VA CZM) Program are working with the recreational and commercial fishing communities to share information through a collaborative process.  Our objectives include developing fine-scale maps of commercial and recreational fishing areas; identifying recommendations to mitigate use conflicts between fishermen and wind energy development; and developing a plan for communicating with fishermen about wind development activities. 

Overview of Collaborative Fisheries Planning for Virginia's Offshore Wind Enery Area (StoryMap)
Collaborative Fisheries Planning for Virginia's Offshore Wind Energy Area Project fact sheet (PDF)

Virginia's Wind Energy Area


Virginia Off-shore Wind Energy Lease Study Area

(Map above) Virginia’s designated offshore commercial wind energy area is 24 nautical miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. The Virginia Offshore Wind Technology Advancement Project (VOWTAP) Research Lease Area (purple grid) will include two 6 MW ocean scale wind turbines and a buried transmission cable. Commercial and recreational fisheries data in and around the proposed research and commercial (yellow grid) lease area are being sought, collected, and analyzed to minimize use conflicts with offshore wind energy development. This area is approximately 176 square miles.

(Graphic below)  What is the average height above sea surface and distance between wind turbines?  Based on the current technology, the lowest point of the rotor sweep would be 65 to 100 feet (ft) above the sea surface. The minimum gap for the Virginia Offshore Wind Technology Advancement Project (VOWTAP) on the proposed research lease is 89 feet above mean sea level.

Wind Turbine Graphic

The project team seeks to capture data missing from the study area (e.g., fishing activity not required to be reported; primary transit routes, etc.) via two methods:

  • Download and mapping of voluntarily contributed chart plotter data (grouped and summarized to address confidentiality concerns).
  • Participatory Geographic Information System (p-GIS) mapping where project team members work with fishermen to map fishing and transit locations directly into a computer.  

Recreational uses of Virginia’s entire Atlantic Coast were mapped at a 2012 participatory GIS workshop.  The six maps below show recreational fishing uses mapped at that workshop that occur in and around Virginia’s commercial wind energy lease area: charter fishing large vessel, charter fishing small vessel, recreational dive fishing, recreational fishing from motorized vehicle, recreational fishing from non-motorized vehicle, recreational shore fishing. (Click on the thumbnail to view and download a larger map.)

Virginia map of charter fishing large vesselVirginia map of charter fishing small vesselVirginia map of recreational dive fishingVirginia map of recreational fishing from motorized vehiclesVirginia map of recreational fishing from non-motorized vehiclesVirginia map of recreational shore fishing

This collaboration is designed to complement and integrate existing data to build a stronger regional spatial understanding of fishing. As such, information on other existing initiatives listed in the table below will also be shared.

Mapping Tool  Fisheries Data Description  Primary Data Source  For More Information 
MARCO's Ocean Data Portal  "Communities at Sea" heat maps showing commercial fishing effort linked to fisherman's home ports NOAA Vessel Trip Reports (VTR) and NOAA vessel permit database 
Virginia CZM's Coastal GEMS Portal Locations of general and dominant use for recreational fishing  Participatory mapping (P-GIS) workshops 
NOAA/BOEM fishery exposure analysis Estimated value of fish commercially harvested from wind energy areas  NOAA VTR, Vessel Monitoring System, and seafood dealer reports 

More Information on Offshore Wind Energy Development in the Atlantic

Collaborative Fisheries Planning for Virginia's Offshore Wind Energy Area

Collaborative Fisheries Planning for Virginia's Offshore Wind Energy Area - FINAL Report (PDF) - Based on input from public meetings and direct interaction with the Commercial Fishing industry, this draft document identifies how activities should be conducted within Virginia’s Wind Energy Area before, during, and after turbine construction and implementation. 

Presentations & Notes from Virginia Offshore Wind Energy Area Workshop

September 2015 in Virginia Beach

Virginia Wind Energy Area BMP Workshop Notes - September 2015 (PDF)



Value to Fishermen Participating in Study

  • Receive regular communication on what to expect as the wind energy project progresses
  • Inform the project team of the best ways to communicate with all fishermen under various circumstances, such as notifications about temporary closures or other messages that need to be communicated during construction and operation
  • Fishing data and other information can help with decisions about some aspects of design, construction, and operation of the commercial wind energy project infrastructure, and construction timing, to reduce conflict with the fishing community during the development of wind energy facilities

Virginia First State in Nation to Receive Wind Energy Research Lease in Federal Waters from BOEM

For More Information on this Project

Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program:

Laura McKay -

For ports in Virginia Beach, Hampton, or Newport News:
Todd Janeski - 

For ports on Virginia’s Eastern Shore: 
Connie Morrison -

Recreational Fishing Contact: 
Jeff Deem -

Commercial Fishing Contact:
Rick Robins -

Bureau of Energy Management -

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000

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