Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, introduced a bill in Congress that would block commercial offshore wind development from Lobster Management Area 1, and require a new study of how federal agencies are conducting environmental reviews for potential wind projects in the Gulf of Maine.

“BOEM’s decision not to remove one of the most lucrative and productive fishing grounds in the region from consideration for commercial offshore wind projects is just the latest in a series of unrelenting challenges to Maine fishermen,” Golden said in announcing the bill Thursday. “Prohibiting commercial wind development in LMA 1 protects Maine fishermen's way of life and of making a living for their families and their communities, just as they have for generations.”

The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has identified more than 9.8 million areas of federal waters in the Gulf of Maine for consideration as wind energy areas for future leasing to developers. The agency included LMA 1 “and areas closed seasonally or permanently to protect the North Atlantic right whale, as potential commercial offshore wind sites,” according to Golden. “Prohibiting offshore wind development in LMA 1 would help to avoid conflict with the New England commercial and recreational fishing industries.”

A week before, Maine’s Congressional delegation sent a letter to BOEM urging the agency to minimize potential conflicts between wind power development and Maine’s fishing industries.

The agency has had other recent pushback, such as a call from Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek and that state’s Congressional delegation to revamp BOEM’s study of potential West Coast wind power areas. Like the Gulf of Maine, future offshore wind projects in deeper Pacific waters would require use of floating wind turbine platforms with arrays of cabling and anchoring.

The Government Accountability Office is to undertake a study of how BOEM has reviewed East Coast wind projects, at the behest of Rep. Chris Smith, R-NJ.

Maine fishing advocates praised Goldens’s measure.

“I am very pleased and proud to support Congressmen Golden in the Northeast Fisheries Heritage Protection Act. As we move forward towards energy goals that leave many fishermen uneasy; this Act protects our heritage lobster fishery,” said Virginia Olsen, a commercial lobsterman and director of the Mainer Lobstering Union. 

“As fishermen we have participated in countless Zoom meetings, hearings, and written multiple letters to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and we still have over half of our federal fishery in BOEM's call area,” said Olsen. “The Northeast Fisheries Heritage Protection Act would stop the leasing of Lobster Management Area 1 for commercial wind federally opening siting outside our lobstering grounds.”

Patrice McCarron, policy director for the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, said the “legislation would ensure that any impacts of offshore wind are understood before allowing the industrialization of the fragile and productive Gulf of Maine ecosystem, putting at risk its wildlife, habitat, commercial and recreational fisheries, and a way of life that has sustained thousands of Maine families for more than a century.” 

Jerry Leeman, chief executive officer of the New England Fishermen’s Stewardship Association, said the legislation “recognizes what a growing body of scholarly research shows – we do not fully understand the effects offshore wind platforms will have on marine ecosystems. NEFSA strongly supports the environmental review process set out in this bill.”



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Associate Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for more than 30 years and a 25-year field editor for National Fisherman before joining our Commercial Marine editorial staff in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.

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