“Expanding offshore wind is a necessity if New England is going to confront the climate crisis with everything we’ve got,” said CLF senior attorney Nick Krakoff. “The Gulf of Maine needs to be part of that strategy, yet it is critical to ensure that wind is developed responsibly. We must limit impacts on the critical species, habitats, and existing ocean users that make the area so special, and CLF will be at the table to make sure that happens.”
“The Atlantic cod population is struggling, and this vote is finally a step in the right direction,” said Allison Lorenc, Senior Policy Analyst at CLF. “After two failed attempts, this new plan will reduce fishing pressure to help cod recover while supporting fishing communities. Our hope is that this is the first of many decisions that will set cod on a path to a healthy population.”
“With an extinction crisis unfolding in real-time, this decision is necessary for the recovery of North Atlantic right whales,” said Erica Fuller, senior attorney at Conservation Law Foundation. “The fact is, this area wasn’t chosen at random. It’s an area where science showed a deadly trifecta of dense lobster gear, heavy lines, and whales for a few months of the year. The court made the right call in reaffirming the decision, which will have a significant impact on this dwindling whale population.”
As the federal government begins identifying offshore wind areas in the Gulf of Maine, we must prioritize the health and prosperity of our communities and the environment. A comprehensive environmental analysis can help us achieve that.
“It’s simply flawed to choose areas for offshore wind development before doing a full environmental analysis,” said CLF attorney Nick Krakoff. “It is critical to advance the development of offshore wind to respond to the climate crisis and clean up our electric grid, but it must be done responsibly. BOEM must improve its processes and consider the full environmental and socioeconomic impacts of wind development before areas in the Gulf of Maine are chosen.”
“Reducing entanglements by prohibiting fishing in this area is critical to ensuring the survival of right whales,” said Erica Fuller, a senior attorney at Conservation Law Foundation. “This decision affirms that science matters. The First Circuit got it right: entanglements often can’t be traced, so where whales, lots of lines, and heavy fishing lines coincide, we need fishing restrictions now.”
“Fragile deep-sea corals play a critical role in the marine ecosystem and must be protected,” said CLF Senior Attorney Erica Fuller. “Coral provide essential habitat for many important commercial and recreational fish species, and they are highly vulnerable to disturbances with any damage taking decades or centuries to recover. This rule is a good step in protecting some corals in select areas, but more must be done to expand these protections in the Gulf of Maine.”
As we celebrate the four-year anniversary of New England’s national monuments, CLF is part of a growing movement of scientists, policymakers, businesses, and conservation organizations in the United States and around the world calling for the global protection of at least 30% of land and 30% of the ocean by 2030.
“This decision confirms that even the federal government is not above the law,” said Erica Fuller, CLF Senior Attorney. “We must do whatever it takes to ensure right whales are here for future generations, and that starts with obeying the Endangered Species Act. The ruling provides an incentive for fishermen and scientists to forge a new path that protects right whales while also sustaining the lobster industry.”
“Fishery managers are failing in their job to end overfishing of New England’s most recognizable fish species,” said Peter Shelley, Senior Counsel at CLF. “Cod is in crisis and the Council once again failed to make the hard decision needed to end overfishing and rebuild these stocks. The proposed limits are unlawful, and the federal government must disapprove them. Directed fishing on Atlantic cod should have been stopped years ago.”