Statement from Maine’s fishing community on offshore wind development

Tue, 01/26/2021 - 7:45am

This opinion piece is written on behalf of: Patrice McCarron, Maine Lobstermen’s Association; Ben Martens, Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association; Annie Tselikis, Maine Lobster Dealers Association; Rocky Alley, Maine Lobstering Union; Paul Anderson, Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries; and Sheila Dassatt, Downeast Lobstermen’s Association

Maine fishermen are deeply committed to clean energy and protecting the environment. We draw our livelihoods from the ocean and recognize the fragility of our shared marine environment. Maine fishermen understand and support the need to develop clean renewable energy sources, but do not share the Governor’s vision to achieve this through rushed offshore wind development in the Gulf of Maine.

While the Gulf appears vast and without borders, it is, in reality, an area well‐managed by generations of fishermen who feed our nation with healthy, sustainably harvested seafood.

“The Gulf of Maine is a rich and nourishing workplace and Maine’s fishermen have long been stewards of its tremendous resources. We advocate that Maine continue our industry’s long tradition of protecting, rather than industrializing, our precious ocean resources,” said Ben Martens, executive director of the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association.

Maine’s fishing community is deeply concerned that wind development will end our fishing heritage which has sustained our coastal communities for centuries and is integral part of Maine’s identity. Without dedicated research proving otherwise, we are skeptical that offshore wind can deliver on its promise of affordable clean energy as promised by global energy companies.

Nineteen‐year old fisherman Josh Todd of Chebeague Island worries, “I'm an 11th generation fisherman and I am very proud of my family's legacy. I don’t want to be the last generation in my family to fish because we are replaced with another industry.”

As professionals with a deep understanding of our ocean environment, Maine fishermen have specialized knowledge, experience and perspective that should be fully understood before planning any offshore wind project. Undue haste in a time of a deadly pandemic will not foster this collaboration with fishermen, and ultimately, will result in an unreliable and untrustworthy basis for future planning efforts.

Rock Alley, president of the Maine Lobstering Union, notes, “The fishing community has taken care of the sea for generations yet our knowledge is continually disregarded or minimized. We need time to do this project the right way or not at all.”

Maine’s fishing community does not support offshore wind implemented through careless timelines and uncertain technology, and feels there are better ways to achieve Maine’s clean energy future. We will continue to engage in conversations and demand accountability through the use of sound science, adequate planning timelines, and thorough economic, environmental and cost benefit analyses of proposed projects.

“The state of Maine should be wary of trading its fishing heritage by entering a race to fulfill empty promises from international energy companies,” warned Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association.