EAST MACHIAS, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Fishermen in Machias Bay are on alert as the construction of a subsea power cable is set to get underway.
Some met with representatives from the Navy and firms involved in the project in East Machias Monday night to clarify the final plan.
"We've been in contact with the fishing community starting and throughout the design and environmental review process—so prior to the award of the project,” Kari Moore an environmental planner with the Navy said.
The project has been in the works since 2013, but the Navy says they just received funding this April.
“Now that we're going out to construction, we're reaching out to the fishing community to let them know what the marine construction schedule is and also let them know why kind of activities they can expect to see out there,” Moore said.
The nearly 6.7-mile cable will connect the Howard Cove Substation underwater to the Cutler Naval Communications Station to provide what the Navy is calling a more reliable energy source.
The station now runs on dated diesel generators.
Fishermen are worried about how the cable will be classified. They fear it will restrict fishing in parts of the bay. Their primary concern: dredging for scallops in a prime location.
"If it gets classified a certain way as a cable area itself, we will lose a lot of bottom, but it's not a safety concern where it's buried,” fisherman Michael E. Murphy II said.
However, the Navy and the Triton construction firm are confident they can bury the cable deep enough for minimal interference. They expect to be able to trench the cable 1.5 meters beneath the sea floor.
Otherwise, they will lay concrete mats over areas where the cable cannot be trenched.
"When they lay the cable they'll have GPS locations going along. They'll know have a more accurate idea of where the actual cable's going to be located. So then the Navy's going to reach back out to NOAA. We've already talked about it and see if we can get it identified as a line instead of an area so then there will be less of an area they have to stay away from,” Moore said.
The final decision on how the cable is classified will be made after construction, which will start in-water come November.
Until then, the construction firm hopes fishermen will assist in the process of clearing gear out of the path for the cable.
The firm hopes the project is completed by the end of the year.