Thu, Jun 22, 2023 at 3:19 PM FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 22, 2023 Contact: Rachel Freed | 202-961-7550 To Protect Maine Fisheries and Coastal Communities, Golden Introduces Bill to Prohibit Commercial Offshore Wind Energy Development in Key Fishing Grounds in the Gulf of Maine Legislation will protect key fishing grounds recently identified by Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) as potential commercial offshore wind sites WASHINGTON — Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02) today announced the introduction of the Northeast Fisheries Heritage Protection Act. This bill would prohibit commercial offshore wind energy development in Lobster Management Area 1 (LMA 1) in the Gulf of Maine and initiate a federal study on the environmental review processes of any relevant Federal agencies for offshore wind projects in the Gulf of Maine. “BOEM’s decision not to remove one of the most lucrative and productive fishing grounds in the region from consideration for commercial offshore wind projects is just the latest in a series of unrelenting challenges to Maine fishermen,” said Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02). “Prohibiting commercial wind development in LMA 1 protects Maine lobstermen’s way of life and of making a living for their families and their communities, just as they have for generations.” LMA 1 is a critical and highly productive fishing ground for a variety of sea life, including lobster. In a recent report, BOEM identified more than 9.8 million acres in the Gulf of Maine, including LMA 1 and areas closed seasonally or permanently to protect the North Atlantic right whale, as potential commercial offshore wind sites. Prohibiting offshore wind development in LMA 1 would help to avoid conflict with the New England commercial and recreational fishing industries. The introduction of this legislation comes on the heels of last week’s Maine delegation letter urging BOEM to “minimize all potential conflicts” between offshore wind and Maine’s fishing industries, including by avoiding wind development in key fishing areas like LMA 1. “I am very pleased and proud to support Congressmen Golden in the Northeast Fisheries Heritage Protection Act. As we move forward towards energy goals that leave many fishermen uneasy; this Act protects our heritage lobster fishery. As fishermen we have participated in countless zoom meetings, hearings, and written multiple letters to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and we still have over half of our federal fishery in BOEM's call area. The Northeast Fisheries Heritage Protection Act would stop the leasing of Lobster Management Area 1 for commercial wind federally opening siting outside our lobstering grounds. Thank you Congressman Golden for upholding your promise to support Maine fishermen and our fishery,” said Virginia Olsen, commercial lobsterman and Director of the Maine Lobstering Union. “The MLA commends Congressman Golden for introducing legislation to protect Maine’s lobster fishery from being overrun by massive, offshore wind farms. The legislation would ensure that any impacts of offshore wind are understood before allowing the industrialization of the fragile and productive Gulf of Maine ecosystem, putting at risk its wildlife, habitat, commercial and recreational fisheries, and a way of life that has sustained thousands of Maine families for more than a century,” said Patrice McCarron, Policy Director, Maine Lobstermen’s Association “Communities up and down the coast of Maine depend on the fishing grounds in the Gulf of Maine. This bill would ensure that these key waters, and our diverse fisheries, are protected from commercial offshore wind. The Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association appreciates Congressman Golden’s continued commitment to Maine fishermen and our iconic fisheries,” said Ben Martens, Executive Director, Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association “The New England Fishermen’s Stewardship Association (NEFSA) sincerely thanks Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) for crafting the Northeast Fisheries Heritage Protection Act. This legislation recognizes what a growing body of scholarly research shows – we do not fully understand the effects offshore wind platforms will have on marine ecosystems. NEFSA strongly supports the environmental review process set out in this bill. Protecting Nearshore Management Area 1 from leasing and platform construction is an encouraging development. NEFSA believes that the wind industry poses serious threats to the viability of our fisheries and the safety of our oceans. We will continue to oppose efforts to industrialize the oceans that sustained our forebearers and our communities,” said Jerry Leeman, Chief Executive Officer, New England Fishermen’s Stewardship Association. Since his election to Congress, Golden has been a tireless advocate for the Maine lobster fishery. Golden worked alongside the Maine Delegation and Governor to successfully secure a six-year regulatory pause for Maine’s lobster industry in last year’s omnibus appropriations bill. He led a bipartisan push to get answers from NOAA and BOEM as to how the whales that had been washing up along the Atlantic coast are dying. Following the unsubstantiated and speculative decision by Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch to place Maine lobster on their seafood “Red List,” Golden and Senator King introduced a bill that would prohibit federal taxpayer funds from going to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. In the wake of new proposed regulations that would threaten the livelihoods of Maine lobstermen, Golden introduced a bold amendment to block the regulations until the underlying data had undergone a scientific peer review process. He has worked closely with the lobstering community to ensure that they have a voice in the process and that regulations are based on the best available evidence and don’t unfairly target the fishery. To help lobstermen bear the costs of complying with the regulations, Golden introduced legislation that would offset costs and worked with members of the Maine Delegation to secure $17.1 million in funding for the industry in a yearly appropriations bill. He also led the delegation to urge the president to intervene directly. The text of the bill can be found here.
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