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Feds Consider Compensating Fishermen For Wind Energy Effects On Harvests

Offshore Wind
Robert F. Bukaty
This Friday, Sept. 20, 2013 file photo shows the country's first floating wind turbine works off the coast of Castine, Maine.

The Mills administration is partnering with a commercial wind energy company, New England Aqua Ventus, to seek a lease of 16-square miles of federal waters south of for a wind farm of up to 12 wind turbines tens of miles south of Bremen, with a goal of researching novel “floating platform” technology and its effects on ecosystems and fisheries.

"It's positive that the Biden Administration is examining these questions, and we look forward to learning more about their thinking,” said NEAV spokesman David Wilby. “While the process in Maine has already benefited from many participating voices - which is why the preferred site for the Research Array is as far from shore as it is - a standardized federal program for compensation holds promise."

As the Biden administration and Gov. Janet Mills push the development of offshore wind energy projects, new efforts are emerging to look at compensation for commercial fishermen whose harvests might be hurt.

Last month the governors of nine Atlantic coast states, from Maine to Virginia, called on Biden to lead a regional approach to offshore wind development, including a plan for mitigating negative effects on fisheries.

In a later meeting with regional fisheries managers first reported by Reuters, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management biologist Brian Hooker said potential compensation policies were under review.

"BOEM's role in fisheries mitigation, writ large, including compensatory mitigation, is something we're taking a very serious look at," Hooker said.

Representatives for fishermen in Maine and elsewhere say they haven't been included in any recent state or federal efforts to consider compensation policies - and they want a seat at the table.

In a written statement, a spokesman for the Governor's Energy Office says the state also hasn't yet joined any formal conversations on the issue, but will participate in any such efforts, "to ensure Maine’s interests are represented as part of a measured and prudent approach to offshore wind."

A Columbia University graduate, Fred began his journalism career as a print reporter in Vermont, then came to Maine Public in 2001 as its political reporter, as well as serving as a host for a variety of Maine Public Radio and Maine Public Television programs. Fred later went on to become news director for New England Public Radio in Western Massachusetts and worked as a freelancer for National Public Radio and a number of regional public radio stations, including WBUR in Boston and NHPR in New Hampshire.