Maine looks for offshore wind compromise with fishermen

Source: By The Associated Press • Posted: Monday, July 5, 2021

In this Aug. 15, 2016 file photo, three of Deepwater Wind’s five turbines stand in the water off Block Island, R.I. Credit: Michael Dwyer / AP

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Legislature approved a compromise about offshore wind power in Maine that would put a moratorium on projects close to the Maine coast.

Maine’s lobster fishing industry has expressed concerns about the effect development of offshore wind power could have on its business. The state is working with New England Aqua Ventus on a project that would be the first floating offshore wind research array in the country.

The Maine Legislature unanimously approved its compromise on Wednesday and sent it to Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, who is a supporter of wind power. Mills introduced  the compromise proposal earlier this year. She said at the time that it was an attempt to “protect Maine’s maritime heritage and coastal economy while being out front in this new competitive industry.”

The proposal would also create a group called the Offshore Wind Research Consortium that would include members of fishing groups. It would research the impacts of offshore wind.

The moratorium on industrial wind projects near the coast would last until March 1, 2031. The Aqua Ventus project is slated for the federal waters of the Gulf of Maine, further from shore.

Democratic Senate President Troy Jackson said the compromise proposal reflects that “Maine lobstermen have proven to be great stewards of our environment.” He said the state wants to ensure fishermen can still make a living in the era of offshore wind.

Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, said members of the industry are “encouraged that the Legislature was willing to listen to our concerns and build in some safeguards and accountability by banning offshore wind in state waters and requiring the offshore wind strategic plan to be completed before the state can permit offshore wind cables into Maine.”