May 28, 2007

Rockland Harbor Lobsterfishery - Saved from Marina Sprawl

Amazing but true: Maine Department of Environmental Protection actually PROTECTED a nearshore lobster ground and scenic shoreline from marina sprawl. And this despite the vigorous efforts of Governor Baldacci's brother Robert to sway the agency's permit reviewer on behalf of the lawfirm representing the pier wannabe, Samorock LLC.

A unique bit of Maine's coastal waters, the north end of Rockland Harbor is rich with lobsters, free of marinas, and has only a tiny scattering a private piers. The shallow waters are filled with eelgrass meadows, kelp forests, coralline algae, lobster burrows.mussel beds and more.

Just as important, large areas are free of moorings - the bane of bottom habitat. (the heavy chains at the lower end of the mooring sweep round and round the mooring stone, clearing away kelp and eelgrass, and flattening lobster, shrimp and seaworm burrows)

Mooring fields, as cover much of Rockland Harbor and other increasingly crowded harbors along the midcoast, have contributed to the desertification of otherwise highly bio-productive protected shallow waters. With this removal of living seafloor habitats comes a diminution of lobster productivity.

So praise to Maine DEP and especially to Jim Cassida and ex-MDEP-er Lisa Kay Keene, for taking the lobstermen's concerns seriously and for upholding the laws and regulations protecting our irreplaceable coastal scenery from ruination.

Kudos too, of course to Arthur Johnson and the other lobstermen who stood up for their fishing ground. If they hadn't, the pier proposal very likely would have been approved, and this would have become a thing of the past!

A hearty bronx cheer, on the other hand, to Maine's Historic Preservation Commission, Maine Natural Heritage Program, Maine Department of Marine Resources, Maine Department of Inland Fish and Wildlife, US Army Corps of Engineers, Friends of the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse for kowtowing to big business and declaring that marina sprawl in the north end would have no ecological or other impacts.