Rockland-based Penobscot Bay Watch says initial results from their November 1, 2009 survey reveal juvenile cod, hake, perch, flounder, herring and many other fish, shrimp and crabs abound on Sears Island's shoals, often in waters less than three feet deep.
"We don't have final numbers on their abundance, but, extrapolating from the hundreds of fish captured in a single short pass of our beach seine, one could easily estimate more than a million young groundfish are on the 100 acre shoal, feasting on great swarms of shrimp-like krill" said Ron Huber, executive director of the group. "This is apparently a quite critical habitat area for juvenile Penobscot Bay groundfish."
The nursery shallows adjoin long-disputed Sears Island, a 1,000 acre undeveloped island that shelters a large estuarine complex in the brackish headwaters of Penobscot Bay. The island is surrounded by Stockton Harbor on its east side and Searsport Harbor on its western side.
Debate over the island's future has split mainstream and grassroots environmentalists, with Sierra Club's Maine Chapter and Maine Coast Heritage Trust favoring the recent division of Sears Island into port zone and privately managed conservation area, while fishery activists and local citizens have filed lawsuits seeking to protect the fish nursery.
"If the state moves ahead and builds a containerport on this island, and dredges these shoals, the natural recovery of Penobscot Bay's groundfish will be jeopardized," Huber said. We very much hope that Judge Hjelm agrees"
Penobscot Bay Watch - People who care about Maine's biggest bay