MCFA BLOG
  • Monique Coombs

Rally to Protect the Gulf of Maine

Today, almost 1000 people gathered in Augusta at a rally to oppose offshore wind development in the Gulf of Maine and advocate for family fishing businesses. The weather was gorgeous, the speakers were passionate and well-spoken, and the crowd was supportive and engaged. The crowd included Maine fishermen, lobster dealers, processors, trap businesses, and concerned citizens. Maine's fishing organizations would like to thank everyone that joined, helped, and supported. (A huge thanks to Virginia Olsen, Lobster 207 for her leadership!)

Below is a speech from MCFA's Director of Community Programs, Monique Coombs.


At the bottom of this post is also more information about what's next and how you can get more involved.


This is not easy. Stress and emotions are understandably high—this is our livelihood, our families, our communities, our businesses, and yes our finances, that are going to be impacted and that is scary. Stress about just one or two of these things might bring most people to their knees but fishermen are doubling down because they know what is important and they are passionate about Maine’s fishing heritage, fishing communities, and the culture that is inspired by both… so THANK YOU so much to every single Maine fishermen for continuing to persevere.


To me, this is not about just fishing grounds and I know it's not for many of you either. Over the past almost 15 years that I have worked for the fishing industry, and the 17 years that I have been a part of a fishing family, I have learned so much about seafood, fishing, coastal communities, the ocean, and what's most important to me.


Let me give you an example of what's most important to me.

Last year, my kids started their own company called Next Generation Lobster Co. My daughter is 16 and my son is almost 12, and they have their student licenses and a small boat they use to haul their traps in the water near our home on Orr's Island. During the summer, they hauled their traps and managed many of their own sales. On most mornings, they also got up at 4 am to go pogey fishing with their dad. I got to watch them tool around in the skiff by the big boats and in the afternoons it filled my heart when they would come through the door all smiles and covered in fish scales.


This is something I know you all get but so many others are not able to comprehend. My kids spent entire days, most days during their summer vacation, getting up early, working their butts off, and learning patience, grit, determination, responsibility, and teamwork. My kids, and fishing family kids, are the best kind of kids.


My kids, and your kids, are why I am so deeply concerned about developing the Gulf of Maine - whether it's a massive wind turbine or any other kind of structure. Because right now, the ocean provides for us - it provides for us food, a way of life, a connection to nature and the environment, fresh air, wild and open spaces, a chance to experience wildlife, and an opportunity for kids like mine to build meaningful, noble, and honest careers. Maybe they will become fishermen, or marine biologists, or become involved in policy, or become fascinated with the intertidal and decide to become an advocate to protect it.


Developing the ocean with incredibly large and astronomically expensive structures does not get us closer to achieving any goals to provide solutions to our climate change emergency. Instead, it allows some to continue a lifestyle of over-consumption and abundance, it provides even fewer with a large fortune, and it shutters many family fishing businesses - businesses like the one my kids started and are looking forward to working on again this summer.


Support Maine fishermen.

Choose Maine kids.

Eat Maine seafood.

Together, we persevere.

Learn more at ProtectTheGulfofMaine.org


What can we do? What’s next?

  • Get involved- Join the Maine Lobstering Union-Local 207, Maine Coast Fisherman’s Association, Maine Lobstermen’s Association, the Downeast Lobstermen’s Association or all of the above. (Be sure to follow us all on social media for more information, too and use hashtags #SaveMaineLobstermen #SaveMaineFishermen #ProtectTheGulfOfMaine

  • Go to ProtectTheGulfofMaine.org for up-to-date information, videos, news, and events.

  • Find upcoming events at “IAMAW Maine Lobstermen” on Facebook. We plan to have community “cook-outs” up and down the coast to bring people together and discuss our fishing future.

  • Sign up for Advanced Notice of Public Hearings (ANPH) by emailing: MAR@maine.legislature.gov

  • The legislature will email you each week they are in session with a list of bills coming before the Marine Resource Committee. This will give you the opportunity to submit comments either for, against, or neither for nor against.

  • Use the contact information below to let the committee chairs know how you feel about certain issues. (Chairs of the Marine Resources Committee contact info below.)

  • Senator Dave Miramant of Knox- Chair (D - Senate District 12) David.Miramant@legislature.maine.gov

  • Representative Jay McCreight of Harpswell – Chair (D - House District 51) Jay.McCreight@legislature.maine.gov

  • Find your legislature and email them. You can find more info about the House of Representatives and Maine Senate by visiting www.legislature.maine.gov Simple emails saying you oppose offshore wind are fine! Adding more of your concerns is OK, too!

  • Offshore Wind Development is not a green or clean option for the Gulf of Maine.

  • Offshore wind is the most expensive energy on the market!

  • Disposal of non-recyclable turbine blades underground, and leakage of hazardous materials like oil into the ocean, are not green or clean.

  • Our electricity rates will increase to absorb the costs of the project.

  • Unproven number of (temporary) jobs will only displace good-paying jobs that Maine fishermen already have and are able to provide to others.

Our leaders need to hear from YOU!


More contact info:

  • Ginny Olsen, Maine Lobstermen’s Union (v.olsen@lobster207.com)

  • Monique Coombs, Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association (monique@mainecoastfishermen.org)

  • Sheila Dassatt, Downeast Lobstermen’s Association (dassatt711@yahoo.com)

  • Patrice McCarron, Maine Lobstermen’s Association (patrice@mainelobstermen.org)

  • Reach out to your Zone Reps! (https://www.maine.gov/dmr/about/councils/lobzones)

Take care of yourself and your family!

This fight is not an easy one and family fishing businesses are managing stress and existential threats at an unprecedented and unfair pace. Fishermen, you are not alone. If you or someone you love needs support, please visit the below websites.

www.mantherapy.com

www.namimaine.org

National Suicide Prevention Hotline, 1-800-273-8255

Maine Statewide Crisis, 1-888-568-1112



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