Understanding Interactions: Gulf of Maine Fisheries and Offshore Wind

Understanding the intersection of fisheries and floating offshore wind.

We aim to better understand how fishing activities will interact with floating offshore wind, and explore approaches for these industries to coexist alongside each other. Through stakeholder engagement, data analysis, and global expertise, we're exploring sustainable coexistence strategies to ensure the vitality of local fisheries while embracing new clean energy solutions. We will focus on using local fishing insights to provide recommendations that can shape the future of offshore wind development.

Project Goals:

  • Engage with the Gulf of Maine’s fishing industry to identify local experiences that inform guidelines on whether and how fisheries and offshore wind industries can coexist.
  • Enhance the understanding of the interactions between fishing methods and floating offshore wind infrastructures to minimize potential operational conflicts.
  • Identify existing data gaps in floating offshore wind and fisheries interactions through targeted research, promoting informed decision-making for future projects.

The Gulf of Maine will be one of the first regions in the nation to deploy floating offshore wind turbines. This advancement, however, poses challenges for the region's vital fisheries, which may be affected by the turbines' complex anchoring systems and spatial demands. It's crucial to deepen our understanding of how fisheries will interact with floating offshore wind technologies to ensure responsible offshore wind development that accounts for multiple ocean uses.

To address this, with funding from the Maine Governor’s Energy Office, we are collaborating with ERM Consulting & Engineering to explore approaches to fisheries coexistence with floating offshore wind. We will focus on identifying coexistence strategies that ensure environmental sustainability and preserve the economic fabric of the Gulf of Maine.

The fishing industry is crucial to our regional identity and economy, yet there is limited commercial-scale research on the coexistence between fishing and floating offshore wind and its relevance to the Gulf of Maine fishing industry (i.e., gear and species). Conducting this research will help both industries navigate the integration process, and will promote mutual prosperity.

This is a boat in the water during sunset.
Lobstermen hauling and emptying lobster traps on a boat

Our approach includes stakeholder engagement, comprehensive research, and cross-disciplinary collaboration to to devise strategies and inform future technologies that foster synergy between fishing and wind energy. We will leverage the expertise of local fishermen, fishing associations, NGOs, and specialists in engineering and environmental assessment to inform our findings.

The study will fill critical data gaps by examining how existing floating offshore wind projects and fisheries interact, taking into account the gear and practices unique to Maine's fishing industry. This research will be novel, and critical, to identifying feasible approaches to coexistence.

ERM will lead the review of sustainable floating offshore wind designs and regulations, while we at GMRI will document current fishing operations, considering various factors like gear, location, vessel size, effort, and species. We will align our findings with industry knowledge and ensure applicability within proposed wind energy areas.

Our findings will culminate in strategic recommendations to the Maine Governor’s Energy Office. The recommendations will include a definition of coexistence, regulatory and legal considerations, and compatible floating offshore wind technologies. These guidelines will account for the dynamic offshore environment and the evolving nature of floating offshore wind, aiming to foster ongoing dialogue and collaboration among all parties involved.

Ultimately, the goal is to balance the interests of the fishing industry, renewable energy, and the broader community, securing a sustainable future for all.

Project Team

Project Partners