Sep 15, 2009

Sears Island Forum yields promise by Senator Damon to convene hearing on fishery impacts,

Bucksport.  At a forum last night  on the future of Sears Island, Senator Dennis Damon (D-Trenton) co-chair of the Maine Legislature's Marine Resources Committee, said if plans for a container port  advance, he will order a hearing on the fish habitat surrounding the upper Penobscot Bay island..

His announcement came after a succession of opponents of a proposed container port plan for the Sears Island near the mouth of Penobscot River  criticised MaineDOT and the Legislature for ignoring the threat a port on the island would pose to the  well-documented groundfish nursery shoals edging the island's west side. The so called Wasumkeag Shoal is brackish and rich with eelgrass and  supplies young cod pollock, haddock and other fish to the greater bay. The shoal would have to be partly dredged away to make room for an industrial port. The need to protect that marine habitat stymied efforts by former Governor Angus King to build a port there.

"Its about time," said Ron Huber of Penobscot Bay Watch, a panelist at the forum, who spoke in defense of the fish nursery at the forum. "Killing off the habitat necessary for baby cod to survive in Penobscot Bay would hold back inshore groundfish recovery for decades. You don't attack the bay's maternity ward"

Damon said that he will convene the hearing  when and if a port plan for Sears Island is applied for. But Huber and other critics of thesears Island port&park plan warned that by waiting until then, would be too late to have an impact on the application process. They urged him to hold a hearing on the role of upper Penobscot Bay's habitat in producing  inshore groundfish as soon as possible, and create protections for it.


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