On October 19, 2023, the Bureau of Offshore Energy Management (BOEM) announced a Draft Wind Energy Area (Draft WEA) covering approximately 3 million acres in the Gulf of Maine, 64% less acreage than the area previously identified by BOEM in April. The announcement marks the start of a 30-day public comment period during which BOEM will hold virtual public meetings to discuss the data inputs used to shape the Draft WEA.
The Draft WEA is located outside Lobster Management Area 1 (LMA 1) and avoids North Atlantic Right Whale Restricted Areas. BOEM also took steps to exclude groundfish areas east of the Western Gulf of Maine Closure, and within the 10-kilometer buffer from Georges Bank (on the 140-meter line), Platts Bank, Parker Ridge, and Three Dory Ridge. However, BOEM identified three Secondary Areas located within LMA 1 which will be considered for inclusion in the Final WEA.
According to BOEM, the Secondary Areas within LMA 1were found to be “highly suitable” under the ocean planning model developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science. BOEM included these Secondary Areas in order to give Maine and stakeholders additional options for consideration.
“BOEM’s announcement that the draft Wind Energy Area avoids Lobster Management Area 1 and other important fishing grounds appears to be a major victory for Maine’s fishing community, which has voiced serious concerns about the impact of industrializing the Gulf of Maine,” said Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA) policy director Patrice McCarron in a written statement. “We are encouraged that BOEM has committed to continue conversations with all stakeholders to address remaining concerns, including that critical fishing grounds are still under consideration for offshore wind development.”
BOEM will be holding virtual public meetings on its Draft Wind Energy Areas in the Gulf of Maine.
MEETINGS ARE AS FOLLOWS:
Wednesday, November 1, 2023 – 5-7pm
Thursday, November 2, 2023
Recreational & Highly Migratory Species – 10am-12pm
Mobile Gear (e.g., Scallop, Groundfish) – 5-7pm0
Friday, November 3, 2023
Fixed Gear (e.g., Lobster) – 2-4pm
Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations
Thursday, November 2, 2023 – 2-4pm
Shipping & Commercial Maritime
Friday, November 3, 2023 – 10am-12pm
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER – select the meeting you want and click ”Register.”
Formal comments may be submitted at regulations.gov, under docket number BOEM-2023-0052, through 11:59PM EST on November 20.
Comments may also be submitted via mail to:
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Office of Renewable Energy Programs
45600 Woodland Road
Sterling, VA 20166