Notice to Lobster Harvesters Who Fish In or Near the Monhegan Survey Route

DMR Bulletin

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.
Bookmark and Share

Lobster harvesters who fish in or near the Monhegan Survey Route:

Over the past week, this survey has become a symbol for fishermen’s concerns and frustration with the current conversation about the development of offshore wind in the Gulf of Maine.  Please don’t think that I don’t understand your concerns.  I do, and I know you are unhappy that this technology may be coming to the Gulf of Maine.  Your peaceful protest clearly showed your concern, your point was well made, and your message was sent and received.

Over the past 24 hours the press coverage has angered many of you – the amount of gear reported by the survey vessel was much higher than what the Marine Patrol reported to me.  I directed Marine Patrol to do another count of the gear in the area because I wanted to have our own, independent understanding of the situation.   The Guardian, the Vigilant, and a protector were deployed to cover different sections of the route and our new estimate is 254 buoys.  Now that we have an understanding of the amount of gear it is clear they will not be able to complete the survey unless gear is moved.  

Now that we know what we are dealing with for gear, I, along with Marine Patrol, are in conversations with the survey vessel regarding their operations outside the defined route.  They are making concessions to avoid “jogging” while outside the route, as well as limiting the amount of cable deployed while making turns outside the route where gear is present.  We are going to work with them to communicate to you where they are working on a given day.  They are willing to assist, and now I need you to also please help.  I am asking for your cooperation to move the remaining gear that is inside the route to outside the survey area for the next two weeks.

The purpose of this seabed survey is to map the seafloor in order to determine if the cable bringing power to shore can be buried.  The purpose of burying the cable is to allow both mobile and fixed gear to fish around the cable without a problem.  The developer has committed to working with the Department to ensure that fishing will be allowed around and over the cable route.  I hope that we can find a way forward to complete this survey and achieve that goal.

Many times a year, members of the lobster industry are asked to move their gear to accommodate various activities, including things like the Department’s trawl survey, and dredge projects.  Compliance is generally excellent, even in the face of sometimes challenging conditions.  I am asking you to rise to that standard again.  With your cooperation, the remainder of the survey can be completed in the next two weeks, and we can all get back to business as usual.

On occasion, we need to act under our authority to move gear along Maine DMR’s trawl survey route to allow your gear to remain safe.  At this point, if we do not get voluntary compliance to move gear, I will be asking Marine Patrol to move it out of the route (we will not be taking gear to shore).  I want to avoid them spending this time on this activity, but I have been directed to do so if the survey vessel can’t get this work done.  So please, work with us.

As a reminder, the M/V Go Liberty and the R/V Westerly will be transiting through the survey route towing gear.  After they complete that work, another large vessel, the M/V Fugro Explorer, will need to come in and will conduct work at a number of fixed stations throughout the survey route.  At those locations, the vessel will deploy gear to the seafloor and will be stationary while tests are performed.  It is not clear of the timing of this vessel, but I wanted to ensure you were reminded that it will be on site sometime in the near future.

If there is additional information you require to understand what is being asked, please reach out to your local marine patrol officer to get the clarity you need.  They are more than happy to help individuals understand the boundaries of the route.

Again, I do not underestimate the depth of your concerns around the future of offshore wind.  Please let me know if I can come to your harbor and talk directly with you about these concerns.  I will continue to work with you in good faith to represent those issues, and advocate for the research that is necessary to understand the ramifications of these projects.

Thank you.