By Associated Press - Tuesday, March 23, 2021

BOOTHBAY HARBOR, Maine (AP) - An offshore wind turbine developer accused Maine fishermen of disturbing a survey vessel by circling it during a seabed survey for the cable to connect the turbine near Monhegan Island to the mainland.

According to the project developer, New England Aqua Ventus, Monday’s disturbance led the crew of the 144-foot R/V Go Liberty to suspend operations for an unspecified period.

The 12-megawatt test turbine is a collaborative effort between the University of Maine and New England Aqua Ventus and would be the first commercial-scale floating offshore project in the United States, the Portland Press Herald reported.

Ben Martens, executive director of the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, said that he was not aware of any coordinated effort to disrupt the survey. Martens said that he did however speak with fishermen who removed their gear out of the survey route that was damaged.

“Disrupting the survey doesn’t solve anyone’s problems,” Martens said. “Sunday’s protest was a way to make the public aware in a peaceful way. We believe the public needs to know more about this and will side with fishermen and the environment.”

On Sunday, 80 lobster boats lined up between Monhegan and Boothbay Harbor to call attention to concerns surrounding potential wind developments off Maine’s coast.

Rep. Genevieve McDonald, D-Stonington, a lobster fisher who also is working as a consultant for New England Aqua Ventus, said that to her understanding not enough fishing gear was removed from the path of the survey vessel for a complete survey.

“There’s tremendous opposition to offshore wind among commercial fishermen,” McDonald said. “The survey is the first tangible evidence of it and fishermen are responding to that.”

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