Maine Fishermen’s Forum returns amid offshore wind debate

Published: Mar. 2, 2023 at 6:30 PM EST
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ROCKPORT, Maine (WABI) - The 48th Maine Fishermen’s Forum kicked off as a celebration of the industry and informed discussion on developing challenges.

“The greatest things that the Maine Fisherman’s Forum does it negates or lessens a lot of the animosity between the groups involved in the fishery,” said Stephen Train, lobsterman.

The Maine Fishermen’s Forum is a chance for fishermen of all walks of life to come together.

“We have a trade show, we have a dance, we have an auction, we give out scholarships to children and fishermen. And we have some really nice meals and the seafood reception is amazing,” said Train.

The highlight of the day was a series of seminars on how offshore wind development may impact local fisheries. Leaders at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shared data-driven presentations but noted several gaps remain in the process.

“This is made in 2018-2019. There were 14 peer reviewed publications for her to draw from so that’s not a lot of, not a lot of information,” said Andrew Lipsky, NOAA.

“I was disappointed in your answer about when our questions was on the North Sea, and we’ve done all this and they’ve done that for 20 or 30 years. Don’t we know more of what the impacts could be?” said one attendee.

“The evidence is damning. Just with what you’ve got on the board, I don’t see how in God’s name you can even consider putting a wind farm in the Gulf of Maine,” said another attendee.

“We can understand maybe why they think the way they think even if we don’t agree with them, but it kind of removes some of the adversarial aspects of the relationships we have and actually it enables a lot of co-management,” said Train.

NOAA officials say Maine fishermen will be consulted as they move forward with the early stages.

“I think it’s important for them to be here and hear these things from us because they’re not out there as much as we are, they’re not seeing the same things we’re hearing,” said Clayton Philbrook, lobster fisherman.

The goal from all involved is to keep Maine’s billion-dollar industry thriving.

“The reason we have successful fisheries in the state of Maine is because of the way we can work with the people on every side of the fishery. If it was easy, we wouldn’t need to do things like this,” said Train.