Gov. Janet Mills and Maine’s congressional delegation sent a letter Thursday to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) urging the agency to completely prohibit offshore wind power development in a key Gulf of Maine lobstering area.
Thursday’s letter is the latest step in the push by Gov. Mills and the delegation to bar offshore wind development in Lobster Management Area 1 (LMA 1), following a June letter to BOEM asking them to remove LMA 1 from their drafted Wind Energy Area (WEA).
In late October BOEM announced a draft WEA that identified over 3.5 million acres in the Gulf of Maine which the agency says are suitable for offshore wind leasing and development.
Although the drafted area excluded much of LMA 1, two Secondary Areas inside LMA 1 — encompassing more than 200,000 acres — were identified by BOEM for further input and potential inclusion in their final WEA.
“We appreciate that BOEM has listened to our requests, and those of Maine’s fishing community, and removed Lobster Management Area (LMA) 1 from the Draft,” Gov. Mills and Maine’s congressional delegation wrote. “We are concerned, however, that the agency has identified two Secondary Areas within LMA 1 for further input and possible inclusion in the final WEA.”
“LMA 1 is a critical fishing ground to Maine’s lobster fleet and is integral to Maine’s fishing heritage as the source of all lobster landed in our state,” the letter continues. “The area accounts for more than 80 percent of all lobster landed in the United States, one of the highest value species in the nation.”
Mills and the delegation wrote that by completely excluding LMA 1 from any offshore wind development plans, conflicts between the wind development and fishing industries will be minimized.
“We want to ensure that any areas leased in the Gulf of Maine avoid and at the very least minimize impacts to the fishing industry whenever possible,” they wrote.
Patrice McCarron, Policy Director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association said her organization remains “strongly concerned that two large swaths of critical fishing grounds within LMA1 are still under consideration for offshore wind development.”
“Maine lobstermen are proud stewards of the Gulf of Maine and are troubled by the potential impact of offshore wind development, particularly within LMA1, on the environment and our fishing communities,” McCarron said.
Virginia Olsen, commercial lobsterman and Director of the Maine Lobstering Union said the “exclusion of LMA1 including the secondary areas gives Maine fisheries the best chance of surviving.”
BOEM is accepting public comments on their final WEA — docket number BOEM-2023-0054 — through Nov. 20.