Dec 31, 2004

End of year bay scuttlebutt

* State Legislature: Marine Resources Committee co-chair Sen Dennis Damon also a bigwig in the Taxation Committee, so don't expect him to pay to much attention to the fishies...Historic event: John Eder is the first-ever Green Indy Party state representative on the Marine Resources committee. Maybe a deep ecology point of view can emerge on that committee.

Fisheries: Shrimping is perking along okay, though a lot of guys stayed in haven't gone out yet. The bigger shrimp haven't come inshore yet. Processors will ramp up after the new year (mid-January) Dock price has not been fabulous; from 40 to 80 cents per pound. Last year the stats showed pretty dismal at the Portland fish market, There was a lot of anger at last years fishermen's forum over that year's tiny season, because shrimping is needed to fill in the wintertime gap economically speaking for many a fisherman.

Groundfish inshore is pretty much nothing. Scallops inshore not so hot, on top of small catches, the competition from the Nantucket Shoals fishery completely dominates the market.

Erick Swanson's abrupt switchover from salmon to mostly mussels is a harbinger of things to come. Mussels are the growth sector in aquaculture. Prince Edwards Island mussel aquaculture is maxed out.
Great eastern needs competitors; its getting them in the persons of Swanson and others.
Absentee aquaculture is as bad as absentee forestry. Its best to be local aquaculture. With lobster, Maine zoned it regionally and forbids corporate ownership or license transferability. We should structure the lease process similarly so that aquaculture leases are not transferable.

Bay Management At least one Penobscot Bay area proposal (Bagaduce River) has been sent in for consideration - state has some $$$ various groups are scuffling over.

LNG - No sign of it sneaking into the bay - the energy seems to be in the area of deciding the fate of Sears Island - shall MDOT retain a chunk to keep its future port dreams alive? Or will the local residents in unison with the Penobscot Nation make it a non industrial natural destination site.

More to some...

Dec 30, 2004

Dragon Cement's toxic groundwater plume (1).

Cement company's waste pile and leacheate pond (orange water partly obscured by wingstrut)close to homes on Thomaston's Marsh Road. Groundwater test wells in between show high levels of chromium and sulfate, and very high pH.

Maine Bay Management public meetings scheduled

"SHARING PUBLIC WATERS: a community discussion on managing Maine's Bays See: Maine Bay Management Website
January 26, February 3, February 8. Maine Coastal Program and the Maine DMR are co-hosting a series of public listening sessions along the Maine coast to hear your input on whether and how the state treats the marine life, marine resource users and shorefront landowners that inhabit, use and live around Maine's bays. The results will be analyzed and presented to the legislature with recommendations for reforming and consolidating bay-related laws and regulations

Share your ideas and concerns at one of these three upcoming public meeting in your area.
Ellsworth (Ellsworth City Hall) Wednesday January 26, 2005 (Jan. 27) 7-9 p.m.
Rockland (Rockland High School) Thursday February 3, 2005 (Feb. 9) 7-9 p.m.
Portland (Portland High School) Tuesday February 8, 2005 (Feb. 10) 7-9 p.m.

DMR's Bay Management point of contact: Lorraine Lessard at 207-287-1486.

Dec 18, 2004

Nothing but crabs shall fill the Gulf of Maine.

University of Maine marine scientist Bob Steneck's recent gloomy report on Gulf of Maine kelp forest changes (PDF file)
Click Here Doesn't look good, folks, a future GOM dominated by crabs.

Dec 15, 2004

Swannie goes mussel!

Eric Swanson - colorful character that has run a brace of salmon farms in Blue Hill Bay and nearby waters despite the most strenuous efforts of local bay group Friends of Blue Hill Bay - is dropping the fins for the shells and becoming a mussel farmer, with a tiny specialty organic salmon sideline about 5K fish at a time - about 1% of the # of fish he'd been raising. The last straw must have been Conservation Law Foundation's November 12 challenge to DMRs decisions a month earlier renewing Swanson’s Hardwood Island lease and granting him a new site off Tinker. Iintrepid Maine marine news reporter Aaron Porter tells all about it.

Dec 14, 2004

Sears Island Stockton Harbor, Cape Jellison

Originally uploaded by ronhuber.
Lower Penobscot River meets Upper Penobscot Bay. Sears Island and Cape Jellison on the western side of the bay and river. For more about Sears Island , Click here.

There are a variety of activities going on to liberate Sears Island from the MDOT yoke. Cape Jellison, alas, is experiencing SPRAWL without much if any resistance.

Dec 13, 2004

Sears Island Frenzy

Island protection advocates Organizing. See gallery of Sears Island aerial photos
* The Sierra Club & Islesboro Island Trust are doing what they do best - negotiate-with- the-govt-behind-the-scene Sears Island dance, though this time the Penobscot Indian Nation hsa joined in the effort.
* Penobscot Bay Alliance? While saving Sears Island ought to be the "coming out" campaign of this outfit, two of the group's key leaders are acting on Sears Island from their parent organizations Sierra Club and Islesboro Island Trust, spurning any appearance before the media or in public as leaders of what appears to be a perpetually not-quite-ready-for-prime-time PBA.
* A Searsport municipal comittee has been holding somewhat murky dealings with MDOT.
Now charette style public meetings are underway with everyone from the MDOT and BPL to the Penobscot Incdian Nation and the eco-yuppies conversing on possible futures for the island.
MDOT hopes to get Searsport to sign a Memorandum of Understanding giving DOT permanent rights to the SW corner of the island. Residents of Searsport just voted to re-impose a moratorium on industrial development by an overwhelming margin

*A bill has been been put together to enable Maine DOT to transfer the island to the Bureau of Parks and Lands. Presently under state law MDOT can SELL or LEASE land under its control to private interests. It can't TRANSFER land to another agency (except the Maine Housing Authority gets first dibs if the land has been declared "surplus", which wouldn't be the case for Sears Island).

How a bill is introduced into the Maine Legislature As noted at the above link, the bill that's submitted by a legislator goes to the Revisor's Office, Office of Policy and Legal Analysis, and Office of Fiscal and Program Review. Their staff checks the wording and passes it back to the legislator for approval or not, until it says what he or she wants it to say.

* Legislators to sponsor/co-sponsor John Eder, of Course, Our beloved Green Party legislator. Stay Tuned

Dec 3, 2004

Feds feeding New England's Ivory Lighthouses

Nov 29 04 But what about dealing with the sea squirts fouling Georges Bank?.....In
today's Federal Register
the National Marine Fisheries Service announces that the
New England Fishery Mgmt Council (NEFMC) is holding a public meeting of its Research Steering Committee on Dec 14, 04, (with committee recommendations brought to
the full NEFMC for formal consideration and action, if appropriate.)

They are going to "consider experimental fishery
permit requests and develop related comments for consideration by the
NEFMC and Regional Administrator. They will continue discussions on
2005 research priorities, particularly in relation to the long-term
programs currently underway in the Northeast such as the cod tagging,
study fleet and industry-based survey initiatives. They will also
coordinate comments on final reports that have been funded through
NMFS' cooperative research program and begin to develop a consistent process
for the various research set-aside programs provided for in the NEFMC
fishery management plans." More info at the above hyperlink.

Nov 26, 2004

GOM LNG: Fall River Mass asks USCG to set out burn & kill radius distances around LNG tankers

Gulf of Maine LNG Update November 27, 2004 As NIMBAY activists (Not In My BAY) keep punting the LNG port wannabes from shores after shore from Sipayik to Cape Cod, the luckless LNG- port-threatened riverside city of Fall River, Massachusetts has petitioned the US Coasties to delineate high-burn-risk zones around LNG tankers moving in federal and state waters and at port, that correspond with the no go's already in place for land-based LNG spills. I.e. "thermal exclusion zones", and "vapor dispersal zones." The whole 22 page petition, and related info is now online
Mustn't toast the citizens. The crux of the Fall Riverian petition to the Us Coast Guard for Rulechanging is that two sentences be added to the federal LNG regulations
"Section 127.115 Every vessel carrying LNG, whether in transit or while moored at a waterfront facility handling LNG, must maintain a thermal exclusion zone for marine spills of LNG as required under 49 C.F.R. s. 193.2057 for spills of LNG on land."

"Section 127.1 17 Every vessel carrying LNG, whether in transit or while moored at a waterfront facility handling LNG, must maintain a vapor dispersion exclusion zone for marine spills of LNG as required under 49 C.F.R. s. 193.2059 for spills of LNG on land."

Not a bad idea; who wants to get broiled en passent?

Sep 3, 2004

Invader Update

This morning, put out an update request out to the Gulf of Maine's researchers investigating the movements of invader shorecrab Hemigrapsus sanguineus. With summer's end, the researchers are wrapping up their hunts across the region's intertidal zone for the little crustacean invader, newest arthropod from away to try to colonize the Gulf of Maine's shores.

The response (caveated with the usual cautions of scientists handling raw data) is that it appears that "[N]umbers in southern Maine have slightly increased, but Hemi has not spread further east, and the furthest east collection site is still Isle au Haut. We came up empty in eastern Penobscot Bay, around MDI, and in Washington County."

Ha! The little buggers' eastward movement seem to be stymied.
Last year's crab-watch found them the the shores of Isle au Haute; in 2001 and 2002, Asian Shore Crabs (ASC's) were captured on Crescent Beach in Owls Head.
What with their alleged predatory habits towards juvenile lobsters, ASCs may end up changing the 60 million dollar/year crustacean economy of west Penobscot Bay.