Sep 22, 2013

Federal fishery agency AGAIN defending Penobscot Bay's fish & shellfish habitat

In 1995 and now in 2013, the National Marine Fisheries Service has consistently defended the fish- and shellfish-important shallows near Sears Island in upper Penobscot Bay.

In the mid 1990s, NMFS thwarted an effort by the King Administration to get a permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers to build a woodchip port on Sears Island & dredge access to it. The scar of the ghostport is the only visible remains of that plan.

In 2013, NMFS is telling the Army Corps of Engineers that the Lepage administration plan to dredge the shoal separating Sears Island from the open harbor nearby Sears Island "represents significant new and permanent losses of shallow water habitats."

First the 1995 letter, then the 2013 letter.
* In this September 29, 1995 eight page letter, National Marine Fisheries Service regional director Dr. Andrew A. Rosenberg tells Lt Col J. Michael Bradbury of Army Corps of Engineers that NMFS opposes the port plan because:
"The proposed Sears Island cargoport would be one of the most damaging coastal development projects to occur in New England since modern environmental standards went into effect in the 1970's."....
"...The National Marine Fisheries Service is opposed to the proposed Sears Island cargo terminal because it would destroy and degrade a very large area of extremely valuable habitat."

* In this August 28, 2013 five page letter about Maine DOT's plan for dredging outer Searsport Harbor, NMFS Louis A. Chiarella tells John R. Kennelly of the Army Corps of Engineers that:
"Unfortunately we continue to have significant concerns regarding the proposed project's impacts on our trust resources." ....
"Because the existing shallow water areas that would be impacted by the dredging have not been dredged in the past, the proposed project represents significant new and permanent losses of shallow water habitats."....
"Because the maneuvering area contains areas identified as EFH [Essential Fish Habitat] for spawning, egg development, larvae, and young of year winter flounder, we have determined that the proposed project would permanently impact winter flounder EFH."

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Not bad! The 2013 letter is very carefully & cautiously worded, but NMFS knows what it is doing, and is making sure everything they write has backup.
We, too, need to be NMFS' backup. Maine DOT will do whatever backroom dealing it can to try to force the expansion dredging to happen. If a federal agency's fish habitat protectors continue to stand their ground in defense of Penobscot Bay all these years, shouldn't we?

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