Lobstermen who were forced to move traps along a 23-mile long route off the coast of Monhegan can resume fishing activity in the area. Last week, vessels conducting a survey for an offshore wind project completed their work along the route.
The Maine Department of Marine Resources sent a notice to fishermen on Friday stating that gear, like lobster traps, that were relocated to accommodate the New England Aqua Ventus survey can be moved back to their original locations.
Fishermen were asked to voluntarily move their traps so a survey of the seabed floor along the wind project’s proposed cable route could be conducted. But given the contentious issue of wind development of the Gulf of Maine, some fishermen felt they shouldn’t have to move their traps for a project that they feel threatens their livelihood.
Ultimately, though, most complied.
One of the survey vessels, the Go Liberty, drags sonar equipment, so if it comes in contact with fishing gear ― like lobster traps ― damage can be caused to both the equipment and the gear.
The survey, which began in early March, was only supposed to last four weeks. However due to inclement weather and the prevalence of fishing gear in the survey route, the timeline was delayed.
In late March, the Maine Department of Marine Resources sent a notice to fishermen with gear still in the survey route asking that they voluntarily move their traps or else Marine Patrol officers would move the gear for them. The notice was sent after Marine Patrol identified about 240 lobster traps still within the survey route.
In the following weeks, Maine Marine Patrol officers and fishermen worked to clear most of the gear out of the pathway so the survey vessels could do their work.
The data gathered during the seabed floor survey has allowed New England Aqua Ventus to identify a cable route “that will allow for more of the cable to be buried than would have been possible with previously existing information,” Dave Wilby, a spokesperson for the New England Aqua Ventus project, said.
All three survey vessels have left Maine waters.