As offshore wind power continues its inexorable advance in the Gulf of Maine, Gov. Janet Mills and Maine’s Congressional Delegation are pleading with the Biden Administration to protect the interests of Maine’s local fisheries.
In a letter sent Monday to Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Elizabeth Klein, Gov. Mills, U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, and Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden submitted public comment to the federal agency concerning offshore wind development plans.
In the letter, Maine’s political leaders requested the avoidance of key lobstering areas for wind development, with a strong emphasis on minimizing conflicts between offshore wind projects and the fishing industry.
Their plea comes as a direct response to BOEM’s “Call for Information and Nominations” for potential commercial wind energy development in areas off the coasts of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.
Despite a 29 percent reduction in the acreage initially proposed for these projects, BOEM has included in their plans several critical fishing areas, notably an area of lobster fishery known as Lobster Management Area 1 (LMA 1).
That area is a principal fishing ground and habitat for Maine’s lobster.
Mills and Maine’s Members of Congress have asked BOEM to exclude the territory from commercial offshore wind leasing considerations.
“Our fishing community feels that their voices are not being heard. A straightforward way for BOEM to show it is committed to minimizing impact to fisheries would be to adopt the fishing community’s primary request: remove LMA 1 from consideration,” the delegation said.
The Maine leaders further called out the Bureau’s consideration of the Massachusetts Restricted Area, the Great South Channel Restricted Area, and most of the LMA 1 restricted area for offshore wind development, despite these areas being permanently or seasonally closed to fishing due to the potential presence of the North Atlantic Right Whale.
Last year, Maine’s politicians engaged in a protracted and heated fight with federal regulators over new rules that aimed at protecting the endangered mammal.
Lobstermen said repeatedly that the rules would threaten their industry without commensurate benefit to whale populations.
Now, however, the same concerns over whales seem to have subsided when it comes to regulating offshore commercial wind power, which has emerged as a major priority of the Biden Administration.
Here’s the letter: