Maine’s governor introduced a proposal on Wednesday that would establish a decade-long moratorium on new offshore wind projects in state waters, but would not stop projects in federal waters from moving forward.
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, a proponent of wind power, made the proposal as members of the state’s fishing industry raised questions about locating wind turbines in the Gulf of Maine. The gulf is a critical fishing ground for lobster harvesters and other fishermen.
Mills said in a statement that her moratorium would “preserve state waters for valuable fishing and recreation, while reaffirming Maine’s priority of locating offshore wind projects in federal waters of the Gulf of Maine.” She cited the fact Maine has proposed the first research array for floating offshore wind technology in those waters.
Mills also said she crafted the proposal, which was submitted to the Maine Legislature, in response to concerns from the fishing industry. Most lobster fishing takes place in state waters, she said.
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“Fundamentally, I do not believe offshore wind and Maine’s fishing industry are mutually exclusive,” Mills said.
Mills made the proposal on the same day a group led by Maine fishermen planned to gather in Augusta to oppose what it called “the industrialization of the Gulf of Maine through the deployment of massive offshore wind turbines.”
Maine needs to know more about how offshore wind projects would affect the marine environment before approving any, said Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association.
“We are currently operating on extraordinarily little data and we are putting one of Maine’s most iconic and important industries at risk of complete collapse,” McCarron said.
People who attended Wednesday’s protest echoed McCarron's sentiments.
“We have so many questions. The fishermen just don’t want to industrialize the Gulf of Maine,” said Virginia Olsen, who fishes for lobster and helped organize the event.