In the News – September 2022

BOEM Takes First Step in Gulf Wind Leases

In August the Department of the Interior Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) published a Request for Interest (RFI) and Request for Competitive Interest (RFCI) in the offshore area of the Gulf of Maine. Publishing the RFI is the first step in BOEM’s leasing process to identify the offshore locations that appear most suitable for offshore energy development. Its purpose is to gauge interest in the development of commercial wind energy leases within the Gulf of Maine area, which consists of about 13,713,800 acres. First lease auctions for the Gulf area are anticipated in mid-2024.

Change to Menhaden Rules Possible

Menhaden. Pew Trusts photo.

The Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commission is considering new provisions that could increase menhaden catch quotas in Maine. Menhaden, also known as pogies, have become a top lobster bait as herring populations have declined. The proposal, released in mid-August, includes several different allocation options and variations that would allow more fish to be landed in Maine. Minimum allocations could be done on a tiered scale based on harvests going back to 2009. The commission could also shift the time frame that allocations are based upon to more recent years, which would give Maine a boost because of its increased landings. The commission is expected to decide on the changes later this fall. In late August, the state Department of Marine Resources shut the commercial menhaden harvest completely. The small-scale menhaden fishery caught 170% more fish than last year in its first 17 days of fishing.

P.E.I. Fishermen’s Co-Op Suffers Fire Damage

An August fire destroyed part of a fisherman’s co-op in Murray Harbour, Prince Edward Island. The fire started in the afternoon, and destroyed the freezer, garage, and ice house at the Machon Point Fisherman’s Co-op. Co-op officials said the freezers, garage for the co-op’s trucks, and ice house will need to be rebuilt, but supply chain issues may make it difficult to source new equipment. One building housed a significant quantity of bait for the 2023 season.

Warming Reverses Cooling in the Gulf of Maine

A new study, led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and co-written by the University of Maine found that rapid warming in the past one hundred years has reversed 900 years of cooling temperatures in the Gulf of Maine. “Combining precisely dated geochemical data from clam shells with state-of-the-art climate models provides a powerful method for understanding climate change in the Gulf of Maine. We can see how local conditions are influenced by large-scale patterns through time,” said Karl Kreutz, co-author of the study and professor in the University of Maine Climate Change Institute, said in a Bangor Daily News interview. Temperatures in the past 100 years alone warmed faster in the Gulf of Maine than in any other 100-year period over the millennium, according to the study.

DMR Names First Shark Researcher

Blue Shark. NOAA photo.

Matt Davis, a Department of Marine Resources lobster survey scientist with a background in shark biology, to be the state government’s first ever researcher dedicated to studying sharks. Most of his work is running the state’s shark monitoring program, which began in the wake of the state’s first fatal shark attack in 2020. The state now has about 30 acoustic receivers in the water that collect data when sharks with monitoring tags swim within a couple hundred yards of them. They’re largely spread out in southern Maine, from Ogunquit to the Sheepscot River. The state’s shark program is still in its early days. Davis only has about a year and a half of data from the receivers, which only cover a portion of the state’s coastline.

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