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Ginny Olsen is the director of Maine Lobstering Union Local 207.
As fishermen who earn their living in the Gulf of Maine and in associated jobs on shore, we have a key responsibility to closely follow and weigh in on any initiative that would impact our ability to continue with a way of life that spans generations of working families.
It should come as no surprise that lobstermen oppose offshore wind on general principle. It should also come as no surprise that we will explore and act upon any and every opportunity to mitigate the impacts to our fishery and members in the event that offshore wind does move forward in the Gulf of Maine.
Last fall, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management initiated the process to lease federal waters for offshore wind development in the Gulf of Maine, and this January, state Sen. Mark Lawrence and supporters announced legislation that would create a schedule in Maine for procuring huge amounts of offshore wind power over the coming decade.
With these two developments under way, the time to act is now. Over the last three months since Lawrence’s bill was announced, we have had productive and good-faith conversations with him and the broad coalition of labor and environmental groups that support the bill, which we expect to be printed in the coming weeks.
Although our position is nuanced, we do see this legislation – and its clear language that heavily disincentivizes and functionally excludes development of offshore wind in Lobster Management Area 1 (LMA-1) – as the best opportunity to be a part of the coalition to ensure that lawmakers stand with our members and act decisively to protect our way of life.
We appreciate the efforts of Senate President Troy Jackson and Sen. Lawrence to not only hear our concerns but take seriously the potential devastating impacts that a poorly sited offshore wind industry can have on our members, fishery, and coastal communities. We also appreciate the solidarity shown by our partners in the Building Trades, Maine Labor Climate Council, the Maine AFL-CIO and all of our friends in organized labor to walk the talk of lifting up the needs and importance of working families regardless of the industry — both on and offshore. Their efforts at functionally eliminating LMA-1 is critical if commercial offshore wind is to be sited in the Gulf of Maine.
We look forward to following the legislative process closely. Further, while we reiterate our firm stance that while our membership is opposed to the proliferation of offshore wind in the Gulf of Maine, we also unanimously support the prohibition of any development inside of LMA-1 and fully acknowledge that the pending procurement legislation being introduced by Lawrence is our best chance for protecting our industry.