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October 20, 2023

Feds chart Gulf of Maine waters for offshore wind power, avoiding key fishing grounds

The federal government has mapped out where future offshore wind power turbines may be placed in the Gulf of Maine, and the 3.5 million-acre swath skirts critical lobstering and fishing grounds.

The proposed wind-power waters lie 23 to 120 miles off the coast of Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, according to a plan released Thursday by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

The Draft Wind Energy Area has a power production capacity of over 40 gigawatts, which is enough electricity to supply more than 13 million homes. That total far exceeds the goals for offshore wind energy production set by Maine, 3 GW, and Massachusetts, 10 GW.

Courtesy / BOEM
A map shows the Draft Wind Energy Area currently proposed by the federal government.

The Biden administration has set a goal of 30 GW in offshore wind energy capacity by 2030. By 2035, the goal is to have 15 GW of offshore wind power specifically from floating wind turbines — the type of electricity generators needed off the coast of Maine, because of its deep waters.

The Draft WEA avoids Lobster Management Area 1 and all North Atlantic Right Whale Restricted Areas, the bureau said. The Draft WEA also avoid other important fishing waters and habitats, including important groundfish areas east of the Western Gulf of Maine Closure and within the 10-kilometer buffer from Georges Bank, Platts Bank, Parker Ridge and Three Dory Ridge.

Most of the fishing grounds of Maine's Tribal Nations are also avoided.

The plan for the wind power area is still in draft form, and the BOEM said it will set exact limits after a 30-day public review and comment period.   

“BOEM will continue to prioritize a robust and transparent planning process, including engagement with Tribal governments, federal and state agencies, the fishing community and other ocean users,” said BOEM Director Elizabeth Klein.

“BOEM strives to minimize potential impacts and will continue working hard to finalize offshore areas that have strong resource potential and the fewest environmental and user conflicts.” 

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