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Steaming Ahead | May 2021

The Maine lobster industry finally has something to feel good about. On April 28, hundreds of fishermen, families and business people joined together outside of the Augusta Civic Center to oppose offshore wind development. The MLA proudly stood with Maine’s other fishing organizations and hundreds from fishing communities throughout the state to speak with one voice. The Maine Lobstermen’s Association is grateful to the Maine Lobstering Union for organizing this event.

The issues of right whales and wind energy development have been incredibly stressful for everyone. Many of us are having sleepless nights as we try to process what a 98% risk reduction over ten years to protect right whales and massive ocean energy developments will mean for the future of our fishery, for our communities, for the marine environment, and for our kids.

Yet there is a silver lining. Fishermen and fishing groups are working together. Stubborn personalities are putting their egos aside so that Maine’s fishing industry can speak with one voice. New leaders are emerging and making us proud.

This month I am featuring Orrs Island lobsterman Christopher McIntire as our Steaming Ahead author so that you can experience the amazing speech he made at the rally on April 28. He has eloquently captured the issues and concerns of so many in the fishing industry. McIntire’s words stand as a promise of all that we can accomplish when we work together, listen to one another, and make space for the new leaders who will fight for our future.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak today and finally feel as though my voice and the voices of other fishermen and concerned members of the community will be heard. Far too often in the state’s recent planning around offshore wind development, that has not been the case.

Chris McIntire speaking at the April 28 rally in Augusta against offshore wind development. Photo courtesy: Kennebec Journal

The state’s swift action towards endorsing the overseas corporate takeover of our historical fishing grounds has been disturbing to say the least. Instead of taking the prudent path, conducting non-biased research to better understand the socio-economic and environmental impacts of large-scale industrialization of the Gulf of Maine, the state has taken a ‘Let’s put them out there and see what happens approach.

Every time a critical question is raised about the functionality or impacts of the governor’s proposed offshore wind project, we are told, ‘We don’t’ know’ or ‘That’s why it’s a research project.’ The Gulf of Maine and all of the people it supports are not worth being used as a giant test tube. At its core, the governor’s proposed project is not a research project. It will be the world’s largest floating offshore wind array and the largest wind farm to be built in the U.S. to date. It will be owned and operated for 20 to 30 years by Diamond Offshore Wind, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and RWE, Europe’s largest carbon polluter.

Does it really sound like a good idea to start leasing areas of the Gulf of Maine to some of the world’s least environmentally friendly companies?

The Gulf of Maine is currently being drooled over by overseas investors in global energy companies. In order for them to sell energy at affordable rates they will have to scale up the number of wind turbines in these windfarms to reduce the price per unit. The hundreds of turbines that it will take to produce affordable energy will cover thousands of square miles of some of the most productive fishing grounds in the world, taking opportunities away from U.S. fishermen and handing them to big energy companies.

I could go on and on about all of the reasons offshore wind development in the Gulf of Maine is a bad idea. You’ve heard many of them today and will continue to. And most of you here today already know why.

I’m here today to ask for help, help from the people of the great state of Maine and their representatives here in Augusta.

Every fisherman’s small business isn’t much different from your average small family farm. The big difference is that we don’t own the water from which we harvest seafood. We have always been told that you can’t own the water. It’s a shared resource. But now apparently overseas energy companies can own the water for 20 years or more per lease. If the fishermen had been extended the same opportunity now given to these energy companies, we’d have had the whole thing leased 100 years ago.

So I urge the people of Maine to support Maine’s fishing industries by saying no to offshore wind and maintaining the shared resource that has sustained coastal Maine for hundreds of years.

Please contact your local senators, representatives and members of local government and let them know that offshore wind is bad for the Gulf of Maine. Let’s work together to find better renewable energy opportunities that will benefit the people of Maine instead of global energy companies.

Please don’t let our government replace generational careers with short-term construction jobs. This is not another case of people saying ‘Not in my backyard.’ Because if the only two options were literally in the Gulf of Maine or in my backyard, I’d choose my backyard. They don’t belong out there in the ocean.

So please believe that when we here today say no to offshore wind, it is because we truly believe that it will be bad for the environment, bad for fishermen, and bad for the state of Maine.

Thank you all very much for being here today.

I hope you are as impressed as I am. Please take the time read more excerpts from the rally on pages 24 and 25. And stay safe on the water.


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