State marine regulators kicked off a series of online outreach meetings on Tuesday evening with lobster zone councils that represent fishing grounds where the administration of Gov. Janet Mills could site a 12-turbine wind-energy project.
And as recent protests over a smaller project planned off Monhegan Island show, the gap between Mills and fishing communities is only growing.
Harpswell lobsterman Chris McIntire asked Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher how the bigger array could be stopped altogether.
“Do we need to start a petition? I mean, how do we stop it from happening?” McIntire said.
“That’s a tough question to ask me,” Keliher said. “Obviously my boss wants to see offshore wind. It’s a very high priority for her. I think the (fishing) industry’s voice, if you have these concerns, needs to be heard through the regulatory process.”
Keliher and project backers say it will allow the state to collect data needed to minimize or even avert the growing industry’s effects on local fisheries. But McIntire calculates that by 2030, state policy could lead to wind projects covering some 850 square miles of ocean acreage. And that, he says, is obviously incompatible with a viable lobster industry.
Keliher meets Wednesday evening with lobstermen from the midcoast area.
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