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Jul 10, 2014

Green crab "harvest facilitation" public hearing Monday July 14, 2014

The European Green Crab seems to  have dropped sharply this year in upper Penobscot Bay -  both in the Bagaduce River and in Searsport Harbor.

But Mainers must still be prepared for when the next spike in green crab numbers happens - Weather related? Have they moved away from the plundered shores  and gone subtidal?  Whatever  the reasons, Maine's policy is to facilitate their capture and death.

On Monday July 14th the Maine Department of Marine Resources will hold a public hearing on the newest regs at DMR HQ. Friends of Penobscot Bay will be there.

Read all about it:
Green Crab Harvest Facilitation; Ch. 8.02 Compliance & Ch. 8.20(A) Harvester Reporting Green Crabs. Proposed Rulemaking (7pg pdf)

PUBLIC HEARING: Monday July 14, 2014. 1 p.m. Natural Resources Service Center.  Room 106. 6 Beech Street, Hallowell, Maine 


DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS: July 25, 2014

OFFICIAL SUMMARY
"This proposed regulation would improve the ability of individuals to collect and remove from coastal Maine waters the invasive and damaging green crab species. The considerable adverse effect of green crab predation on Maine’s valuable shellfish population has increased the importance of streamlining and improving DMR regulations regarding the harvest of green crabs." 

"The proposed regulations include: eliminating the restriction on the taking of green crabs as bycatch by licensed commercial lobster harvesters; no longer requiring a lobster/crab license holder to obtain a green crab-only license in order to sell green crabs; eliminating the harvester reporting requirement for green crabs; and clarifying requirements prohibiting harvesting green crabs at night and the usage of unapproved bait."

Details:
http://www.maine.gov/dmr/25.40greencrabproposedweb.pdf

Jun 26, 2014

Newspaper: Study finds acidic mud at Kidder Point

Study finds acidic mud at Kidder Point

Local group calls for action
By Jordan Bailey | Jun 25, 2014  Waldo Village Soup/Republican Journal
Photo by: Jordan BaileyFriends of Penobscot Bay President Ron Huber points toward one of the areas where low pH was measured.
SEARSPORT — A study by Dr. Mark Green, environmental science professor at St. Joseph’s College in Standish and ocean acidification expert, found sediment along the shore on the western side of Kidder Point in Searsport to be “extremely acidic,” and a local group is calling for federal agencies to investigate the site.
At the request of Friends of Penobscot Bay, pH of mud was measured at 22 sites on the east side of Sears Island and the west side of Kidder Point. Green reported one location measuring a pH of 1.4 and the rest ranged from 4.55 to 7.15. The average of all the sample measurements was 6.03. Sediments with pH measurements in the 6's and below, Green said in his April 9 report on the study, should be considered incapable of supporting any marine life. In a quick microscopic analysis of the sediments tested, he said he did not see evidence of any of the microscopic organisms that are usually ubiquitous in coastal mud.
The report concluded, “Results presented here clearly demonstrate a significant anthropogenic acid source and should merit concern for the well-being of local residents in contact with these sediments, recreation in the immediate area and wildlife.” Green also expressed the concern in a message sent with the report that metals that would normally be locked in sediment particles could be mobilized by the acidity of the environment.
At a meeting with The Journal April 18 for a previous article, GAC President David Colter and GAC's environmental consultant John Pond of CES Inc. explained that GAC has a fully implemented Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan by which stormwater is treated because of wastes present at the site from its historic uses.
"If GAC wasn't here," Pond said, "the stormwater would be running off  pollution into the bay."
However, Green stated in his report, “Based on the proximity of these stations to the phosphogypsum waste area at Kidder Point there is little doubt that these deposits are being severely impacted by runoff at the adjacent shoreline.”
A group of 10 people met at Sears Island Sunday, June 22, for an informational tour of the Kidder Point shoreline led by FOPB President Ron Huber. The group walked to Green’s sample sites and observed the erosion along the western side of Kidder Point. They saw that the sediment was discolored in areas, with red and yellow hues, and yellow pebbles, believed to be sulfur from a former sulfur acid plant on the property, were peppered among the gravel and cobbles. The erosion appeared to be controlled on the eastern side of the point.
FOPB had been bringing their concerns about this site to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection's attention for several years, and in response an inspector from the department did a site visit October 18, 2013. Karen Knuuti of the Division of Solid Waste Management described a visual inspection of the site in a memo in which she noted areas of yellow and orange discoloration of sediments and some gradual erosion. The only discussion of phosphogypsum in the memo is: “Regarding phosphogypsum, it is not clear if this waste would have been produced by the superphosphate process. I saw no indication of large quantities of waste in the area we walked over." Knuuti also discusses reviewing logs of borings that were made in the area as part of an investigation in the late 1980s. "Sulfur [was noted] in one boring," the memo states. "No other waste materials are noted [in the logs].”
DEP Communications Director Jessamine Logan told The Journal June 23 “the department found no reason to further investigate the property.”
However, many on the June 22 shoreline walk felt the DEP should continue their investigation.
Randall Parr, Green Party District 95 candidate for the Maine House of Representatives, read from a statement he had prepared: “Failure of Maine state agencies to investigate acidification... is a dereliction of duty, shirking their responsibility to the people who depend on the sea for livelihoods and recreation. A scientist who has taken samples determined that there is reason to investigate this site further.”
Mike Dassatt, treasurer of Downeast Lobsterman’s Association, pointed out that there is no life “not even seaweed” along the portion of shoreline near the test site. “From Downeast Lobstermen's Association’s point of view,” he said, “if there's nothing to be concerned about, and there's nothing to hide, then there shouldn't be any reason [for the DEP] not to take samples and get them tested.”
Frustrated with the DEP’s response, FOPB filed a complaint through the National Response Center (NRC), the federal contact point for reporting all hazardous substance releases and oil spills, but it is unclear if the Environmental Protection Agency or Coast Guard will conduct a full investigation.
Timothy Balunis, chief of incident management at the U.S. Coast Guard office in Portland, has been assigned to the case. He emphasized in a call with The Journal that “the site is not a Superfund site," and their response is not a Superfund investigation, as has been implied in a press release by FOPB, but simply the standard procedure after any NRC report is made. According to the EPA website, reports to the NRC activate the National Contingency Plan in which the on-scene coordinator assigned to the incident collects available information on the size and nature of the release, the facility or vessel involved, and the party or parties responsible for the release. Balunis is currently working with the Maine DEP and is reviewing the department’s findings.
“DEP has gone up several times and have been thorough and pro-active in looking into the site,” Balunis said.
At this point, Balunis says, he is not sure if the Coast Guard will be doing any of its own inspections or sampling, and he has made no determination as to hazards to public health at the site.
If state and federal agencies are not yet pursuing full investigations of the site, GAC Chemical may be in the process of doing so voluntarily. A request for comment on GAC’s plans regarding testing, mitigation or cleanup of the area tested by Green was not responded to by press time, but in an email to Huber dated May 21, Colter said “GAC is voluntarily exploring options and alternatives with an environmental consulting firm,” and though no specific timetable can be determined at this early stage of their exploratory efforts, GAC “will continue those efforts in a deliberate manner.”

Jun 16, 2014

Islesboro Island Trust unveils alternative dredge plan. Plus Media reaction to Report

PENOBSCOT BAY. Plans for expansion dredging of Searsport Harbor came under fresh fire today, as a bay area land trust and other opponents of the project renewed their call for the US Army Corps of Engineers and Maine Department of Transportation to perform an Environmental Impact Study on the controversial project before further action is taken. See media coverage at end of release

Islesboro Island Trust today released a report by prominent consulting firm Dawson and Associates that notes that the agencies have not considered 


less damaging alternatives, nor considered the impact to bay fisheries of the release of large quantitities of methylmercury into Penobscot Bay water column.

The Dawson & Associates Report  APPRAISAL OF SEARSPORT DEEPENING PROJECT (pdf) suggests maintenance dredging the entry to Searsport Harbor only to mintenance standard to 35 feet rather than 45, and instead  deepening the layover berths next to the piers to 45 feet. The report says


97% of projected shipping benefits identified by the Corps in their proposal would be achieved using this alternative, the report says, "but would require substantially less dredging than the Corps’ proposal."

Ron Huber, executive director of Friends of Penobscot Bay lauded the report.
"Our state and federal governments need to take the concerns of Penobscot Bay area citizens seriously." Huber said. "This project could radically change the lives of people who fish Penobscot Bay. And those who beachcomb, swim and sail it. "

FOPB's concerns are the same as other dredge critics: the mega-dredge could bring mercury, then methylmercury resuspension, reduce primary production by bay seaweeds and microalgae by turning the water nearly opaque for up to a year, & could stimulate increased coastal industrial growth in the upper Penobscot Bay estuary.

"With the river dams coming down, this estuary needs more protection, not less" he said. "As more and more seafood species come up Penobscot Bay and down Penobscot River, this estuary, as the transition crossroad for them, must be kept ecologically sound."

For more information about the Dawson  & Associates report contact Steve Miller, Islesboro Island Trust 207-734-6907 iitsmill@gmail.com

MEDIA COVERAGE

 Group Unveils Possible Alternative to Searsport Dredge plan. WLBZ

Possible alternative to Searsport dredge plan advanced. WCSH 6

Group advances alternative Searsport Dredging Plan MPBN

Land Trust Promotes Alternative to Searsport Harbor Dredging Bangor Daily News

Jun 12, 2014

FOPB joins renewed call for Searsport MEGA dredge EIS

Citizens tell Feds: Prepare an environmental impact study and smarten up dredge plan before risking New England's top lobster ground - to benefit two foreign oil interests!

PENOBSCOT BAY.  Plans for expansion dredging of Searsport Harbor came under fresh fire today, as a bay area land trust and other opponents of the project renewed their call for the US Army Corps of Engineers and Maine Department of Transportation to perform an  Environmental Impact Study on the controversial project before further action is taken.

Islesboro Island Trust today released a report by prominent consulting firm Dawson and Associates that notes that the agencies have not considered less damaging alternatives, nor considered the impact to bay fisheries of the release of large quantitities of methylmercury into Penobscot Bay water column.

The Dawson report suggests maintenance dredging the entry to 35 feet rather than 45, and instead and deepening the layover berths next to the piers to 45 feet.  The report says  

"97% of projected shipping benefits identified by the Corps in their proposal would be achieved using this alternative, the report says, "but would require substantially less dredging than the Corps’ proposal."

Ron Huber, executive director of Friends of Penobscot Bay lauded the report.

"Our state and federal governments need to take the concerns of Penobscot Bay area citizens seriously." Huber said.  "This project could radically change the lives of people who fish Penobscot Bay. And those who beachcomb, swim and sail it. "

FOPB's concerns are the same as other dredge critics"
the mega-dredge could bring mercury, then methylmercury resuspension, reduce primary production by bay seaweeds and microalgae by turning the water nearly opaque for up to a year, & could stimulate increased coastal industrial growth in the upper Penobscot Bay estuary.   
"With the river dams coming down, this estuary needs more protection, not less"   he said.   "As more and more seafood species come up Penobscot Bay and down Penobscot River, this estuary, as the transition crossroad for them, must be kept ecologically sound." 

For more information about the Dawson report contact Steve Miller, Islesboro Island Trust 207-734-6907iitsmill@gmail.com

End

"Friends of Penobscot Bay: People who care about Maine's Biggest Bay."

May 22, 2014

Cabot Lyman hotel plan gets overwhelming NO from Rockland citizens at 5/20/14 hearing before Rockland planning board

Audio recordings from the 5/20/14 Rockland planning board meeting on Cabot Lyman's application to build a hotel at the intersection of  Main and Pleasant streets. Listen as people speak  eloquently or plainly in defense of their neighborhood against this shining example of "Dumb Growth"

1. Architect Pamela Hawkes (in process)  10 minutes

May 8, 2014

Dagher gets knife in back from US Dept of Energy - Maine's not an ocean windpower grant finalist!



Appears that the feds figured out the good doctor Dagher just isn't ready for prime time.

Maine didn't get the $46 million dollar grant to build two fullsize floating windturbines off Monhegan.

The UMaine-led floating ocean winturbines project has suffered terribly from the near paranoid insularity of the project under  Principle Investigator Dagher, who spurned suggestions from anyone outside his charmed circle. (Charmed by the allure of all those tens of millions and what a grand time they would've had expending it

DeepCwind is getting three million federal bucks in the nationwide competitino. but according to a University source this 3 million isn't even enough to make a single full size prototype. One that can actually be tested, unlike the ridiculous toy windmill that the Maine the windies rushed out and wouldn't take out to the test area - They knew it would sink! 


So the feds took a look at this  furtive public-be-damned-operation  that UMaine engineering professor Habib Dagher, Principal Investigator  for the DeepCwind Consortium and its spin off progeny has been running.

They gazed upon the tiny toy windturbine bobbing off Castine. Too shabbily built to be safely tested at the test site off Monhegan, the design inspired no confidence  among the grantors. Where did the money  given DeepCwind to buld a fullscale prototype go? they must have wondered!

This is an important stay.  The University and its hangers-on in the DeepCwind Consortium presumably figured that if they could get away with  soiling Monhegan's viewshed with its  heavy public use and high scenic values, then all marine viewsheds of the Maine coast are vulnerable. Maine has spent too many years stewarding        

Floating off shore windpower extraction is worth trying out, but not when  it is needlessly view-polluting; or within the Gulf's  ecologically (hence economically) vital coastal currents. Nor are great sweeping blades the only way to extract energy from the seawind.   Dr. Dagher should follow his own advice and commit to siting his floaters beyond the curvature of the earth from any inhabited part of Maine.

The scent of imminent Big Money  may have pushed that civic responsibility from his mind. Now that DeepCwind Consortium and its spinoff children are no longer suffering that temptation, perhaps they will step outside of their echo chamber and listen - really LISTEN -to the existing Gulf of Maine communities of interest about how to avoid wrecking  or damaging their existing economic and cultural sectors and the manylayered heavily webbed ecosystem that fills these waters.

May 3, 2014

Maine Trawl survey comes to Penobscot Bay May 19th through the 23rd

Trawl Survey Time again!

Some of us hate 'em. Some revel in the data. Others  like the photos and videos  the surveyors take of the catches as they move from New Hampshire: a snapshot of life on Maine's coastal seafloors.

Sez DMR: "The Inshore Groundfish Trawl Survey is a fisheries independent assessment of living resources inside the coastal waters of Maine and New Hampshire. Its purpose is to fill a significant information gap that hampers efficient management of Maine’s fishing industry."

Links below are to large images of navigation chart that show the locations within Penobscot Bay and just outside it that the Maine trawl survey will visit with the planned dragging lines.
Day 11, tentatively May 19th – E of Monhegan to Tenants Hbr.
Day 12, tentatively May 20th – Upper Penobscot Bay
Day 13, tentatively May 21st – 1 Mile Ridge and Matinicus SSW
Day 14, tentatively May 22nd – SE of Matinicus Rock to Seal Is.
Day 15, tentatively May 23rd – East Penobscot Bay
Dates  approximate.  Possible stormy weather or stormy lobstermen. (see below)

"Gear consists of a modified shrimp net with a 2 inch mesh in wings and ½ inch mesh liner in the cod end. Foot rope and head ropes are 57' and 70' respectively, with 6 inch rubber cookies.  The F/V Robert Michael, a Northeast 54’ from Portland, ME is used as the platform vessel for this survey."  (End of excerpt.)
Lobstermen  escorting the  Maine trawl survey  boat out of the waters off Corea, Maine in 2001.
 In the past, lobstermen have been outraged by the number of shedder lobsters killed or declawed  by the rough treatment they receive, packed into a trawl's cod end bag. In this 2001 photo several dozen expressed their discontent by escorting the Maine trawl survey boat out of the waters off Corea where most lobsters were in that soft shelled shedder stage

"Noted one Corea fisherman, Arvin Young: "I told them they can't drag here, it's all soft shell lobsters. It's just so ridiculous what they were doing. We've been working for years on conservation, and they drag right through." 
[from: Fishermens Voice, November 2001]