Maine Senate enacts Sen. Duson bill to create a blue economy task force

Posted: July 31, 2023 | Senator Duson

AUGUSTA — On Tuesday, the Maine Senate enacted and funded a bill sponsored by Sen. Jill Duson, D-Portland. LD 1286, “Resolve, to Establish the Blue Economy Task Force to Support Maine’s Emergence as a Center for Blue Economy Innovation and Opportunity in the 21st Century,” will create a task force to study how to implement the sustainable use of ocean resources in economic development.

Senator Jill Duson

“Blue economy” refers to the sustainable use of ocean resources to promote economic and ecosystem health, improve livelihoods, and generate and retain good-paying jobs. LD 1286 will ensure that Maine’s coastal communities have the ability to address the climate crisis and stimulate economic growth.

“Maine occupies a unique position in the global ocean economy,” said Sen. Duson. “This is an opportunity to further our climate goals while also helping coastal communities, affected water dependent businesses, as well as traditional and emerging ocean based economies remain viable in this tough economy. I want to ensure that our waterfronts and those that keep them running are protected into the future. This task force is just the first step to making this happen.”

Dr. Deborah Bronk, president and CEO of Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences testified in favor of the bill at the public hearing:

“The challenges we face in the ocean are truly dire, and yet the opportunities the ocean holds to address climate change, or to serve as a source of energy, food, and drugs is enormous. To truly take advantage of the opportunities, however, we need to leverage the many resources across the state and that requires collaboration and relationship building. It requires connectivity.”

This bill aims to unify interests throughout Maine’s ocean and seafood economic sectors to build sustainable marine centered economic development. It will enable continued focus on this important sector and to convene stakeholders to clarify our state’s blue economy vision for the future. The bill directs the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) to form a task force. The task force will consult with those representing relevant business sectors, marine research, fishing and ocean harvesting interests and federally recognized indigenous people’s leadership. The task force will submit a written report to the Governor’s Office and the Legislature’s Committee on Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business by Feb. 1, 2024.

The scope of the task force will include:

  • Developing a description of the blue economy that includes references to relevant sectors;
  • Reviewing how other coastal states are planning for, or growing the blue economy in their state;
  • Identifying sectors within Maine’s economy that are already implementing blue economy goals and those that have the potential for blue economy engagement through collaborative planning and coordinated action;
  • Developing a collaborative plan and strategies to advance blue economy goals across all sectors.

The task force will also ensure that strategies developed take existing action plans into account, such as the Maine Won’t Wait Climate Action plan.

LD 1286 now goes to the Governor’s desk, where she will either sign it, veto it or allow it to become law without her signature.