Today kicks off the 45th annual Maine Fishermen's Forum at the Samoset Resort in Rockport, Maine. This year's conference program includes all the usual updates on marketing Maine lobster, racing lobster boats, management of a range of New England fisheries — groundfish, herring, eels, scallops — data collection and safety.
New this year is a full day of seminars on offshore wind (taking place all day today, March 5) that will be packed with information fishermen and other working waterfront stakeholders can use: What projects are underway, how they are permitted and what NOAA's role is and will be. Stay tuned for an update here.
I've been to the forum at least a dozen times. One of the things that keeps me going back is that the conference program manages to take deep dives into local and regional fishery management while also taking a bird's-eye view of our national industry needs. It may be the Maine forum, but like anything else in this industry, these topics are the ties that bind.
Offshore wind and a range of other renewable energy industries are not slowing their momentum and, in many cases, a steady march toward claiming offshore territory.
The Responsible Offshore Development Alliance, led by Annie Hawkins, has a board of directors that represents fishing communities up and down the East Coast. The group also recently launched a West Coast coalition that will serve as advocates and watchdogs on the left coast.
Hawkins and others are here to keep us at the table and informed. Whether offshore wind development is inevitable, the alliance has kept the needs of fishing communities in the formula that the federal government is using to calculate the next steps.
The Maine Fishermen's Forum continues its programming and trade show through Saturday afternoon, and the weather looks fine. If you're not out fishing, come join us.