Gov. Mills, congressional delegation want vital fishing area free of offshore wind development
Despite last month’s proposed map for offshore wind in the Gulf of Maine being dubbed a victory for the fishing industry, Maine’s congressional delegation and Gov. Janet Mills are calling for more.
Along with Mills, U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King along with Reps. Jared Golden and Chellie Pingree sent a letter urging that all of a vital fishing area be excluded from the project, according to a news release from Golden’s office. The map proposed last month by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management excluded most, but not all, of Lobster Management Area 1.
“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,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.
The proposed map included two secondary areas covering more than 200,000 acres in Lobster Management Area 1, the release from Golden’s office said.
While the delegation and the governor believe clean energy can offer economic and environmental benefits, it must be done “responsibly with a commitment to minimizing” negative consequences for fishermen and other ocean uses “to the greatest extent possible.”
This letter follows a similar one sent in June by the delegation and Mills urging BOEM to exclude Lobster Management Area 1 and others from any further consideration for offshore wind development.
The Maine Lobstermen’s Association appreciated that the proposed map avoided much of the key fishing area, but Policy Director Patrice McCarron said the organization remains “strongly concerned that two large swaths” are still under consideration.
“As fishermen we continue to raise the concerns we have regarding offshore wind,” said Virginia Olsen, commercial lobsterman and Director of the Maine Lobstering Union. “The exclusion of LMA1 including the secondary areas gives Maine fisheries the best chance of surviving.”
The letter sent to BOEM asks for continued collaboration with Maine’s fishing industry to understand existing uses of the fishing area.
The map proposed last month has been open for a 30-day public review. People can comment through Nov. 20 by going to regulations.gov and searching for docket number BOEM-2023-0054.