Apr 27, 2009

Marine habitat bill - Maine legislature shd remove "licence" section

I personally oppose LD 1331 An Act Regarding Saltwater Recreational Fishing.
s presently worded

The marine recreational license portion of the bill is unnecessary and is a direct affront to the Maine Public Trust Doctrine as laid out in statute and common law for shoreside recreational or personal fisheries.

Why? Because it removes the "Fishing" part of the "Fishing, Fowling and Navigation" public's right to use of the intertidal shore.

That right, under natural law and under Maine statute , is the right to hunt and gather wild animals plants along the shore for personal use -the most basic human relationship with the Sea

Regulated, to be sure, but not subject to earning permission through a licensing system.

Instead it is an unimpeded right for Mainers.

Here is the Maine statute on the Public Interest

I do support the second part of LD 1331 establishing the Marine Recreational Fisheries and Habitat Advisory Council. Nearshore marine habitat is small compared to the greater ocean. It needs attention. Badly

The protection of nearshore marine habitat - kelp, eelgrass, burrow-filled soft bottom, rockly ledge, sandy gullies and the whole coastal water column is critical. These are the waters resorted to by most recreational fishermen and women. The habitat for the species they seek needs as careful oversight as do the habitats of the fishes recreationally sought in Maine's lakes, great ponds, rivers and streams.

the rest of LD 1331should sensibly be dropped and a simple registration system set up. this has been proposed in LD 1432 An Act To Create a Saltwater Recreational Fishing Registry. This , if enacted would very well suffice to carry out the DMR's data collection purposes for recreational marine fishing.

This is similar to in some ways to why it is forbidden to Maine government to require a license to operate a newspaper or other newsmedia outlet - giving the goverment power to license the media makes it possible to shut it down by 'withdrawing' the license.

Some things are too precious to be subject to that. Access to the fishes of the sea for personal use and enjoyment is one of them.

Apr 22, 2009

Sears Island - the once and future LNG port plan?

In MaineBiz, reporter Mindy Favreau observes in a recent article that :
"So far, three lawsuits have been filed against the DOT, claiming the conservation easement between the DOT and the Maine Coast Heritage Trust violates state law and Maine’s Sensible Transportation Planning Act. Henshaw isn’t worried that lawsuits will keep the port from moving forward, since representatives from area towns and environmental groups participated in developing the Sears Island use plan."

What is outside of the box that MDOT is spinning over the eyes and ears of Maine media is a tale of Maine's most important commercial fishery at risk; of upper Penobscot Bay's thriving resort industry facing the prospect of, while the absentee profits accrue from a novel pont a to point b connection, the state epidemiologist must place a new diesel-funked hot spot on Maine's chronic respiratory ailments map as the ships, the trains, the trucks, the cranes drink deeply at their carbon drinks and flatulate in gratitude as they wait, unload, reload and head off by road, rail and by sea.

No, there is a downside to a Sears Island port for many of Maine's small biz businesses. Ms. Favreau relegates it, however to the bland statement:

"So far, three lawsuits have been filed against the DOT, claiming the conservation easement between the DOT and the Maine Coast Heritage Trust violates state law and Maine’s Sensible Transportation Planning Act"

Not surprising given its history, the Maine Port Authority considers its state of lawlessness to be "a relatively good position"

LNG wannabes could make a return visit to Sears Island, if their various downeast ventures fail to get approved; get a refresher of the dangers of that form of energy commerce.

Apr 15, 2009

Sears Island: the view from Castine

Spent the day going to Castine and coming back, my lovely amanuensis Kristine at my side. A trip to the Maine Maritime Academy, where I and environmentalist Jody Spear would debate/discuss Sears Island with three students and two faculty members - George Schatz, Associate Professor of Economics and Finance, (from the Chicago School of Economics) and Bill DeWitt, associate Dean and professor of logistics, with a vast and varied experience of west coast rail and global shipping logistics-in-practice.

Jody Spear challenged the economics- the lack of demonstrated need, the present economic uncertainties. I used a chart of the upper bay as the backdrop for describing the uniqueness of the shoals and the brackish water mixing zone, and ditto for up-river fisheries. That the dredging and chronic toxicants would permanently degrade this linchpin of the greater bay ecosystem.

A google aerial pic of the island was displayed on a large screen, and I pointed out some of the features: the port zone, the shoals, the rail yard. I should have asked him to zoom out to show the greater estuary; that was clear on my paper map anyway, though.

We went on for about 2 1/2 or three hours. Dean DeWitt had to leave early to resume his duties.

In summary...I think that economist Dr Schatz ended up quite sympathetic to the side of keeping local fisheries and tourism-based economies functional, versus setting up a new Free trade entrepot. Dean DeWitt, not so much; he's a can-do engineer. Bio-damage or not, a containerport there WOULD suck up some overflow from a crowded mega-containerport in Halifax every now and then. Would play a role in the economy of the great global economic engine.

But in the end was no sneer or scorn on any face - an amicable parting of the ways, with promises to
send the students some o f the very latest information about the Sears Island lawsuits the highlights of the 1990s fight, a few other things.

Then it was back to the fossil fuel-mobile, and a road cruise back to the western shore; a late lunch at Just Barbs powered us up before a jaunt onto Sears Island. Her sands crisp underfoot on the west coast of the Island. Oh Wasumkeag, in all your Dawn People names - for the Wabanaki and other great confederations and tribes living upon this blessed piece of earth we call Maine called the island by many names.

Sears Island: making the case for hearing the case

In the course of fifteen pages, Huber refutes MDOT's arguments calling for his case in Maine Superior Court to be dismissed without hearing. Read Huber's Response (15 pg pdf file)

First two paragraphs of Huber's response:

Maine DOT's protestations to the contrary, their granting a Sears Island conservation easement to Maine Coast Heritage Trust is a "final agency action." The simplest test of a "final" agency action is whether or not the agency provides the petitioner with any "further recourse, appeal or review ... within the agency" after the action has been taken. 5 MRSA Sec 8002(4). In the case of this easement, which determines the future of the largest undeveloped island in Maine; an island owned by the people of Maine, Maine DOT has not provided the petitioner with any recourse to appeal or seek review of its decision to execute this easement.

Moreover, the finality of MaineDOT's final agency action is demonstrated by its triggering intensive actions and financial expenditures by the agency, including solicitation around the globe for a Sears Island containerport development expert and port applicants. Those expenditures and marketing initiatives would not have taken place were the action of signing the easement not final and dispositive of all issues.

Last two Paragraphs:

"There is no question these recent actions and statements by Maine DOT show that the Jan. 22, 2009 easement "causes to be constructed" a cargo port at Sears Island. For this reason, Huber's requests are "ripe" and the Maine DOT must apply for permits under Maine's Sensible Transportation Policy Act and Maine's Site Location of Development Law. These applications were required to be tendered prior the execution of the easement, and for this reason must be tendered by the Maine DOT now.

"For the reasons set forth above, Petitioner Ronald Huber asks this Honorable Court to deny Defendant Maine DOT's Motion to Dismiss Petitioner Huber's Petition for Review of Final Agency Action, carry out that judicial review and rescind and invalidate Maine DOT's grant of a perpetual conservation easement over 601 acres of Sears Island to Maine Coast Heritage Trust."

Apr 8, 2009

Penobscot Bay scallopers defiant toward DMR's proposed closure rule

The title pretty well sums up what I saw at the April 6th meeting at the Roundtop Center in Damariscotta. When not a single hand went up among the fishermen when polled by the SeaGrant guy as to support for following DMR's command to map out chunks of their grounds for proposed closure, you knew this wasn't going to go easy for the DMR commissioner and his scallop staffer Togue Brawn. Take a listen.

Very much anger and frustration about the state's almost complete hands-off approach to dealing with pollution and habitat loss issues that can ruin everything from feed for scallop larvae to whatever organ breakdown is causing the grey meats. As if there's a magic kitchen in the bay, and as long as they control the fishermen's harvests the right way, things'll be fine.

DMR keeps this attitude even with Penobcot Bay's discolored scallops, with few or NO scallops, with crashes of all sorts of bay species, and never has a defense better than empty pockets. No money in the budget for ecology. Tough times, you know. Sorry.

But meanwhile the DMR, Sea Grant and Cooperative Extension crews burn endless amounts of cash hosting talking head conferences on meaningless planning initiatives, with catered meals and hotel quarters as needed for the lucky hired "experts" to come bloviate on the taxpayers' nickel..

The scallopers of Penobscot Bay, Muscongus Bay and points nearby raised the "no compromise" flag last night in Damariscotta, rejecting DMR's decision to leap before it looks. DMR has threatened "no quarter" if the fishermen don't bend.

Who's going to blink?