Jan 21, 2008

Maine bill would require killing all squatter fish found in fish pens.

For 2008, Maine DMR has introduced LD 2137. An Act To Clarify the Licensing Requirements for Aquaculturists and Allow for the Appropriate Handling of Bycatch from Aquaculture Lease Sites

The bill proposes requiring aquaculturists to kill and dispose of any 'squatter fish' found living inside the net pens along with the farmed fish or shellfish. Squatter fish (my term, not theirs) are wild species like pollock, that either were trapped in the fish pens when they were set up, or entered the pens when small enough to slip through the mesh, and have grown up with the farmed salmon, eating their food and commingling with them.

DMR fears that these animals could have become tainted with salmon diseases or parasites, and if captured and thrown back into the wild, could spread "it", whatever "it" might be. Make sense? Perhaps so. Perhaps not.

The bill's proposed addition to state law reads

"...upon harvest of finfish from the leased area pursuant to an aquaculture lease, any finfish of a species that was not cultivated on the leased area but occurred in the enclosure must also be harvested and retained for appropriate disposal by the holder of a lease
. Such finfish may not be sold and may not be released or disposed of into the waters of the State and must be reported to the department at the same time as reports of the harvest are filed."

The legislation also "clarifies that leaseholders do not need a harvester’s license unless raising shellfish." says DMR

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