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Lobstermen Show Unity in Comments on Wind Energy Area

The MLA put out a call to Maine lobstermen to tell BOEM that we don’t want offshore wind in the Gulf of Maine and that BOEM must keep it out of Lobster Management Area 1. Lobstermen quickly registered their concerns about BOEM’s draft Wind Energy Area (WEA) during the public comment period last fall. There was unanimity among the 300+ letters received during the public comment period, which ended November 20, 2023, that LMA 1 should not be included in any Gulf of Maine lease area. And when BOEM announced the final WEA on March 15, LMA 1 was no longer under consideration. Below is a sampling of lobster industry comments submitted to BOEM.

Thomas Bell, Gouldsboro

I’ve been lobster fishing in Downeast Maine since 2003. No future offshore wind project should be developed inside LMA 1 due to the potential risk to all fisheries in the area. There are plenty of other areas to develop that would not put current industries and people’s jobs and heritage at risk.

Jimmy Wotton, Friendship

I will be directly affected if development occurs in Secondary Area A. Some years I fish the majority of my lobster gear inside Secondary Area A for a few months. The amount of gear, gear location and the duration of time spent there each year depends on the migration trends of lobsters in that year. The ability to move freely within that area is crucial to my business model, as well as to the others that fish there. If development of wind power displaces me and the others that fish there, the economic impact will not only affect us. It will be felt by all lobstermen in all the zones that development occurs in. The ripple effect will be immense, everyone will be affected. The small coastal towns will be especially affected. Lobstering and lobstering related activities account for the majority of jobs and businesses in these towns. Any disruption of fishing activity will be felt by all.

Erik Benner, Friendship

I am a 4th generation lobsterman. I am 21, I have two full time crew members that are also around my age. We fish year-round. Having windmills in the Gulf of Maine will cripple this industry and our families and our towns. When you ask anyone out of the state what they think of when you say Maine, they say Maine lobster. It won’t just affect us as lobsterman but will hurt the whole state.

Shaun McLellan, South Thomaston

I think the biggest question is, Why here? Why would you put anything in the Gulf of Maine that could potentially have a negative impact? One of the richest and most diverse fishing grounds in the world. Lobster, crab, scallops, groundfish, shrimp, pelagic fish, bait fish, etc. The Gulf of Maine is not the area for a windmill experiment. …. Go run this experiment somewhere else. Not in the Gulf of Maine.

Dwight Staples, Deer Isle

Please take the two draft areas in LMA 1 out. Both those areas are sensitive to the Maine lobstering industry. It will push fishermen into other zones that already have fisherman in it. You can’t keep taking bottom away from the hard working men and women that fish. Also having them this close would be a terrible eye sore to the coastal communities that look out there every day. This will also impact local economies. So I would say, as I’m sure you’ve heard over and over, don’t put the windmills there.

Travis Doughty, Cushing

I’m a lobsterman from Cushing, Maine. I’m opposed to all wind farms in the Gulf of Maine. These grounds are a huge resource for the people of the United States, not only Maine. These grounds feed numerous communities as a source of income and as a food resource. The bad outweigh the good far too much to consider this type of effort in the Gulf let alone on this scale. … I feel like it needs more time and research with unbiased sources. Maine lobstermen are all opposed to this. You will be hard pressed to find one who isn’t.

Andrew Havener, Friendship

… I am a fifth-generation lobsterman from Friendship Harbor. I fish in secondary area A from November until sometime in April or May, depending on the year. I typically fish 20 trawls throughout the winter, which equals roughly half of my gear. If I were unable to fish in this area, I would be forced to squeeze into a much smaller area closer to shore. It would greatly affect my profitability in the winter months, which would not only impact my family of five, but my stern men and their families, of equal size, as well.

Marshall Spear, Yarmouth

This area [Gulf of Maine] is a public resource. It’s not for sale or to be sold to private corporations for the benefit of very few. This area has been used by the people of the United States to produce and make a very healthy form of income and independence. How do we want the Gulf of Maine to look like in the next 20 years? To sell this off to BOEM and let them carve it out as theirs is ridiculous and absurd. … The ocean is not for sale and the people of New England are going to prove that to you.

Michael Dawson, New Harbor

I am a commercial fisherman and have been for over 45 years I fish out of New Harbor, Maine. I strongly oppose windmill leases in the Gulf of Maine! … I fish several months in the secondary area A and feel this should not even be on the table of any lease as it is a very productive fishing area and would be critical to our winter and spring fishing efforts.

Wayne Delano, Friendship

I’m a lobster fisherman out of Friendship. I strongly urge you to remove the secondary areas from consideration for possible offshore wind leasing. I fish 400 traps inside this area for 8 months of the year, that’s half the traps I’m allowed to fish. This will have devastating impact on myself, my family and my community. … If this area is leased out for offshore wind it will cause a severe ripple effect to the surrounding areas, forcing guys to move from traditional fishing areas to other already crowded areas. This just doesn’t happen. We cannot just move to fishing grounds we do not normally fish. This will cause gear conflicts that will make the national news. … Please eliminate these secondary areas being considered, both of them.

Madison, Alyssa, Maya, and Kara, Class of 2023, Deer Isle-Stonington High School

I would be concerned about the impact on local businesses and how much the lobstering industry influences our local economy. It would cause a lot of arguments and fighting on the water, which already happens. We have trap wars going on and what happens when we add more to the mix? With more people in one spot, there won’t be enough resources for people to make money. … My dad would lose his job and his mind. My dad didn’t finish high school. What is he going to do if he can’t keep lobstering? Our parents are going to struggle to get a job. It would tear apart our community. We would move away. That is the only reason my mom lives around here is to go lobstering.

Jonathan Achorn, Friendship

Windmills in the ocean is not the answer and will cause more harm than any possible good. I’m a lobster fisherman in zone D and fish not far from the secondary area A which I would like to fish in the future. … I have an 11-year-old boy who lives and breathes all types of fishing and I want him to have a healthy thriving ocean to grow up on. I have 12-year-old that has different dreams but he still relies on lobster fishing to make money and I always want him to have that opportunity. Putting windmills in the ocean is going to change the ocean and not for the good! Please reconsider and save the ocean, the animals and all people that rely on the ocean...

Zach Drehobl, Bailey Island

I am 32 years old and working as a sternman in Mackerel Cove on Bailey Island. I have worked on many boats in the area starting full-time from the age of 17. That’s 15 years of my life dedicated full time, year round to growing and learning this industry. I have grown to love the lobster industry and have decided to make it my career in life. I have been waiting patiently on the Zone F waitlist for close to 12 years learning the way of life and honing my skills as a fisherman. I am now #4 on the Zone F wait list and plan to start my own operation within the next year or two. … These new regulations will destroy these life aspirations that my family and myself count on for EVERYTHING. … TO US, LOBSTERING IS NOT JUST A JOB, IT IS LIFE.

Andrew Spalding, Cumberland

As a commercial lobster fisherman from Maine who fishes in the Gulf of Maine, I can’t stress enough how opposed I am to any offshore windmills. The long-term effects of installation of the windmills and then the cables that will run to shore to the delicate ecosystem will be disastrous. Commercial fishing will be negatively affected.

Abraham Philbrook, Bar Harbor

I fish 75-100% of my gear in the secondary area B for 5-6 months out of the year. Leasing this area for windmills will have a major impact on my lobster practice. I stand against any attempt to lease any area that is used for fishing to a wind developer. Wind farms and fishing will not be able to coexist. ... Dozens of dead whales have been washing to shore where wind development has been happening, bringing into question the government’s commitment to protect the very whales that us fishermen have been blamed for killing, forcing us to rework our entire fishery to reduce our risk by the smallest margins.

Mack Kelley, Steuben

How can anyone look at this and think it’s a good idea? These windmills hardly work on land and you want to stick them in the worst environment possible. They will not be able to be maintained and they will turn into giant eye sores rotting away into the ocean. ... I’m a lobster fisherman and my biggest concern is what will happen to lobster? Will they be able to survive? Will I be able to survive and provide for my family like generations before me have? Will there be anything left for my children? ... This is a huge mistake and it will be remembered as nothing but a huger mistake.

Willis Spear, Jr, Yarmouth

I’m Willis Spear, Jr., a commercial fisherman who’s fished the Gulf of Maine for over 60 years. BOEM has failed to listen to Maine lobstermen and fishermen in their opposition to floating wind farms in the Gulf of Maine because BOEM has put wind farms in very important fishing and lobstering grounds. BOEM has failed to read or even interpret documents and papers written by Walter Riches “Fishing Grounds of the Gulf of Maine,” which states that every piece of the 119 fishing grounds in the Gulf of Maine is part of the whole. The Gulf of Maine cannot be divided into parts. Henry Bryant Bigelow’s Fishes of the Gulf of Maine epitomizes the value of the Gulf of Maine’s fishery in providing food for mankind. George Brown Goode’s The Fisheries and Fishery Industry of the United States Sec.3, states very clearly it is one of the richest fishing grounds in the world. ... The offshore wind farms are not worth the gamble of destroying such a fragile ecosystem. I’m greatly opposed to the proposed wind farms.

John Waldron, Kittery

I am a lobster and tuna fisherman, 80 years old and have been commercial fishing most of my life. There should be no windmills in Maine or anywhere in New England because of the danger to whales and upsetting our way of life. All you have to do is look at places in Europe where they are and commercial fishing does not exist. The price of electricity has skyrocketed. With all the advances that have been made to make nuclear energy safer anybody that has any COMMON SENSE would know that is the way to go. I think somehow that there is something that is happening in our colleges that is killing COMMON SENSE in the professors and students!


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