Responsibly Advancing Offshore Wind and Respecting the Voices of Maine’s Fishermen

Hello, this is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.

Well, the Gulf of Maine, you know has some of the strongest and most consistent winds in the entire world; with Maine’s deepwater port assets; our proximity to international markets; and with the University of Maine’s extensive research and offshore wind technology, our state is well-suited to seize the economic and environmental benefits of the offshore wind industry.

Advancing offshore wind in Maine will create good-paying jobs, will generate renewable energy for our homes and businesses, and it will stabilize our energy bills over the long term. That’s why, for the past five years, my Administration has been working closely with people all across Maine to maximize the benefits of offshore wind.

But, like I’ve always said, offshore wind has to be developed responsibly. It has to be done in a way that is right for Maine. That means minimizing impacts to our commercial fishing industry, for instance, and to our coastal communities, and other maritime users. 

That is very important to me.  

To avoid any impacts on commercial fishing from offshore wind developments, I signed legislation three years ago to prohibit offshore wind projects in state waters, within the three mile limit, and that’s where most of Maine’s commercial lobster harvesting occurs. That law cemented that our preference for offshore wind projects being only in Federal waters in the Gulf of Maine.

Last June the Federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, or BOEM, released a draft plan for commercial leasing of offshore wind areas in the Gulf of Maine, a welcome step forward for offshore wind and its potential to create jobs, and stabilize energy prices, and fight climate change in Maine. But the problem with what BOEM proposed was that it included critical fishing grounds for our lobstermen, groundfishermen, herring fishermen and scallopers. The majority of these grounds are covered by a management area known as “Lobster Management Area One”. 

So, Senators Collins and Senator King and Representatives Pingree and Golden and I wrote to BOEM to urge them to listen to the voices of Maine fishermen and remove LMA 1 from their commercial leasing plan. BOEM then released an updated plan last October that removed most of Lobster Management Area One – which was some progress, but it still included potential problematic areas within that area, exposing them to potential development.

Well, the Congressional Delegation and I then wrote again to BOEM, saying that their new proposal was appreciated but still unacceptable, given how important these fishing grounds are to us. We urged BOEM to ensure that any areas leased in the Gulf of Maine would avoid, and at the very least, minimize impacts to the fishing industry whenever possible.

Following our push, I am pleased to say that BOEM released its final plan for commercial leasing of offshore wind in the Gulf of Maine this week and it does not include any part of Lobster Management Area One. Excluding these critical fishing grounds from offshore wind development will help avoid any conflicts between these two important industries.

I appreciate that BOEM has heeded the concerns of my Administration, the concerns of our Congressional Delegation, and many of the concerns of Maine’s fishing communities in its final plan for commercial development of offshore wind in the Gulf of Maine. 

I will keep urging BOEM to engage with Maine’s fishing industry, with our coastal communities, Tribal governments, and other key maritime users and stakeholders as the commercial leasing process goes forward.

I strongly believe that offshore wind, done responsibly, can help us build a stronger economy with more good-paying jobs and a brighter, more sustainable future for Maine people. 

This week’s decision by BOEM to respect the voices of Maine’s fishermen is an important step forward as we work to responsibly advance offshore wind in Maine in a responsible way.

This is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.