Previously unseen government documents from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have revealed that the off-shore wind industry poses a severe threat to endangered right whales.
The documents, obtained by Bloomberg via Freedom of Information Act request, will provide ammunition to lobstermen and elected officials as they fight burdensome federal regulations on Maine’s most prized fishery.
Sean Hayes, the chief of the protected species branch at NOAA’s National Northeast Fisheries Science Center, explained the threat wind turbine construction and operation presents to the endangered mammals in a May 13 letter to to officials with the federal Interior Department.
“Additional noise, vessel traffic and habitat modifications due to offshore wind development will likely cause added stress that could result in additional population consequences to a species that is already experiencing rapid decline,” Hayes said in his letter, according to Bloomberg.
The documents show that federal regulators — and outside activist groups like Seafood Watch the Marine Stewardship Council — have been focusing on Maine’s lobstering industry while the much-ballyhooed wind industry may pose the more severe threat.
President Joe Biden’s “green” energy goal has been to install wind turbines up and down the New England coast, but NOAA has advocated against the potentially whale-killing wind projects like they have the Maine lobstermen.
The revelation puts environmentalist liberals in a bind over competing priorities: Save the Whales? Stop Climate Change?
That’s a tension they’ll have to sort out in coming months, but for lobstering advocates the case against NOAA’s onerous rules just became easier to make thanks to inspired investigative reporting.
Maine’s lobstermen have been locked in a pitched battle with the federal regulators all year over proposed NOAA rule changes. The changes would impose new requirements on lobstering equipment for the stated goal of reducing whale entanglements.
But lobstermen have repeatedly said the requirements are so burdensome that they would end up going out of business if they are enacted. Plus, there has never been a right whale death attributed to Maine lobstering gear. There hasn’t been an entanglement blamed on Maine gear since 2004, and that whale was released unharmed.
NOAA’s public position against Maine lobstering has already translated into adverse consequences for the industry even though the rules have not taken effect.
Earlier this year, Seafood Watch, a left-wing non-profit operated by the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, added the Maine lobster to its “Red List” of supposedly unsustainable seafood. More recently, the London-based Marine Stewardship Council withdrew its stamp of approval from the Maine lobster.
By themselves, those virtue signals are largely meaningless. But many large retailers use those groups to inform decisions over what they’ll stock in their stores. Last week, Whole Foods, the grocery market chain owned by billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, announced it would drop Maine lobsters.
Even the Whole Foods in Portland has told The Maine Wire that it will no longer stock Maine lobsters after its current supply of sea bugs sells out.
On Wednesday, a delegation of Maine lawmakers, including House Majority Leader Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham (R-Winter Harbor), himself a lobsterman, visited Washington, D.C., to discuss ways to protect Maine’s lobster economy with Maine’s congressional delegation.
“The lives and livelihoods of Maine lobster fishing families and the Maine jobs that depend on them, are increasingly being threatened by outsiders with an agenda,” Faulkingham said in a press release.