Hundreds of Maine fishermen and their families protested offshore windmills in Augusta Wednesday.
Local fishermen say they’re under attack, and that offshore windmills could ruin their industry and put them out of work.
“Today’s really our opportunity to plead for public support,” Maine commercial fisherman Christopher McIntire said. “We need the support of the state of Maine in order to save our historical fishing grounds from being bought up by oversea companies.”
Maine fishermen are fighting against a proposed offshore wind farm. It would be made up of 12 windmills covering about 16 miles of federal water in the Gulf of Maine.
It would be the first floating wind project of its kind in the U.S., but those in the industry fear it would take over their fishing grounds.
“It would actually put my husband out of work,” Phippsburg resident Melissa Wallace said. “That’s all he knows.”
“If the windmills go in that takes up some of the ground, it pushes, it’s a ripple effect, guys on the outside are coming further in which affects the smaller guys in the long run,” protester Lisa Moore said.
Governor Janet Mills, a strong supporter of offshore wind power as a source of renewable energy to address climate change, has also proposed a site farther offshore for a “research array” of multiple floating wind platforms. The combination of those proposals has fishermen worried their livelihoods are at risk from the unknown effects of large wind turbines on marine life.
Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham (R-Winter Harbor), who is also a lobsterman, is sponsoring a bill in the Legislature to block all offshore wind development.
“I fully support green energy, I’m a huge advocate for green energy, and all on board with carbon-free energy. But these windmills on the ocean are anything but green, and a terrible idea for Marine,” he said.
Faulkuingham said the heavy use of concrete, metal, and fiberglass to make the platform and turbine—which he said will weigh 10,000 tons—all require significant use of energy and resources.
More than 60 commercial fishermen and their supporters testified Tuesday in favor of a bill that would block any attempt to develop offshore wind projects anywhere along the Maine coast.
The bill would prohibit any state agency from permitting or approving any offshore wind energy project regardless of its location. It was introduced by Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham, R-Winter Harbor, a commercial fisherman, and co-sponsored by eight other Republican lawmakers.
The testimony on L.D. 101 from lobstermen, their families and town officials from fishing communities drew a clear line in the sand: Any offshore wind development, they told told lawmakers on the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee, would threaten the very survival of their iconic industry and way of life.
Jeffrey Alley, a fifth-generation fishermen from Jonesport who said he grew up on a lobster boat, said the inevitable disruption or prohibition of fishing activity near wind projects would be devastating.
“I want to protect my family’s fishing heritage and ensure the future of our fishery for generations to come,” he said in a written statement.