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In the News - January 2022

Boothbay residents upset by Monhegan wind project survey

Boothbay Harbor. Photo courtesy of Bethany Bourgault.

New England Aqua Ventus officials met with East Boothbay residents in early December 2021 over concerns about recent unannounced survey work for an underground cable. Diamond Offshore CEO Chris Wisseman, Diamond COO David Deutsch and project manager Duncan McEachern were met by around 30 residents at the East Boothbay fire station December 2 and more than 50 at Boothbay Region YMCA on December 3. The Diamond Offshore/RWE Renewables/University of Maine partnership hired teams from SGC Engineering and Ransom Engineering to conduct surveys and drilling samples for three proposed cable routes. The routes all start from Bigelow Laboratory; the first proposed route splits off onto Sunrise Road and the second continues onto Mass Avenue and up Virginia Street. Both proposed routes reach Ocean Point Road where they continue to the substation. The work began on November 11, however the only notice given to the public was a press release published on the same day. The Monhegan wind project has raised concerns among Boothbay Harbor and East Boothbay residents in the past.

Photo courtesy of CNN.

Cod quota cut

The New England Fishery Management Council has called for a reduction of the commercial Georges Bank cod catch from about 2.4 million pounds to about 540,000 pounds next year. Georges Bank is one of two key areas where fishermen catch cod. The other is the Gulf of Maine, which would remain at about 590,000 pounds next year under the council’s recommendation. The council said the Georges Bank and Gulf of Maine cod stocks remain overfished. The Gulf of Maine stock shows “few older fish in the population and few incoming recruits,” the council said in a statement. The catch was less than 2 million pounds in total last year.

Council calls for mitigation fund for fishermen

The New England Fishery Management Council updated its offshore wind energy policy, endorsing calls for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to establish “a compensatory mitigation fund for damages that occur to the marine environment and fish habitat,” and losses to fishing vessels as turbine arrays are built. BOEM started a preliminary public comment process that closes on January 7 to prepare a “guidance” plan for fisheries mitigation measures. The council’s new seven-page policy document spells out its concerns in detail, including “potential impacts from construction, operations, and decommissioning to fishery species and fisheries from physical habitat conversions and losses, scour and sedimentation, construction and operational noise, electromagnetic fields, micrometeorological effects, and water-column hydrodynamic effects (including impacts to the Mid-Atlantic Cold Pool, as well as thermal changes and changes in currents that influence pelagic habitats).” The council also stressed the need to consider “cumulative effects” of turbine arrays now planned from southern New England to the Carolinas.

Chinese firm slapped with fine for lobster mislabeling

A Chinese-owned lobster company in Nova Scotia has been fined $50,000 for illegally shipping U.S.-caught lobsters primarily to China and claiming they came from Canada. Between May and October 2019, the company’s holding facility on Cape Sable Island in southwest Nova Scotia imported 63,000 pounds of live lobster from the United States and exported it as a product of Canada. The lobster was sent from the Halifax Stanfield International Airport. Canadian food traceability and customs certificates are based on an “honor system” that allows the exporter to fill out country of origin in documents.

Searsport Study identifies potential spots for offshore wind hub

Maine Department of Transportation (DOT) released the Offshore Wind Port Infrastructure Feasibility Study, commissioned by Governor Janet Mills, in November. The study evaluated physical and technical characteristics of various locations in the Port of Searsport, identified multiple sites for consideration as part of a hub for offshore floating wind turbine projects, including Mack Point terminal and an area of state-owned Sears Island that is reserved for development. That site, according to the study, is recommended for further environmental analyses, geotechnical assessment, and preliminary design work to gauge environmental impacts and evaluations of alternatives, as would be required by federal and state permitting.

Based on the study recommendations, Maine DOT will conduct further environmental and geotechnical surveys in the area. A second study of other Maine ports is also underway. That study is evaluating how to strategically align Maine’s ports for offshore wind investment and infrastructure.

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