Oct 31, 2013

Elver fisheries reform: mtgs Nov 18 & 19 draft rule: catchers & buyers to use state-issued swipe card for all sales.

Elvers blocked by dam. Some will make it over.
Proposed new elver fishery rules are the topic at DMR meetings on November 18, 2013, 6:00 PM, in Yarmouth, and November 19th, 6:00 PM, EllsworthDeadline for comments: December 2, 2013.

 Proposed rules online (pdf) **  DMR Rulemaking page  See copy of draft elver fish rules below, with boldfacing and paragraph breaks added for ease of reading.  

If adopted, (1) elver harvesters & dealers must use a swipe card reporting system supplied by DMR. (2) Dealers must electronically report quantities to DMR weekly.  (3) DMR's authority to suspend dealer licenses would be clarified,  (4) DMR would establish closed areas for elver fishing  in Penobscot and Hancock Counties. (5) Rules would be harmonized with the ASMFCs  Addendum III of the interstate eel fishery mgmt plan for glass,
yellow, and silver) and recreational eel fisheries.

Email dmr.rulemaking@maine.gov attn Kevin Rousseau   
Contacts: Heidi Bray (207) 633-9504 (for Elver Swipe Card System); Terry Stockwell (207) 624-6553 (for ASMFC Eel Compliance)
Details: http://www.maine.gov/dmr/rulemaking/

AGENCY: Department of Marine Resources
RULE TITLE OR SUBJECT: Elver Reporting Requirements and Swipe Card System; ASMFC  Eel Compliance Measures. Chapter 8 Landings Program and Chapter 32 Eels.
To ensure consideration, comments must include your name and the organization you represent, if any. Please be aware that any risk of non-delivery associated with submissions by fax or e-mail is on the sender.
 AGENCY CONTACT PERSONS: Heidi Bray (207) 633-9504 (for Elver Swipe Card System); Terry Stockwell (207) 624-6553 (for ASMFC Eel Compliance)

Mail Written Comments to: attn: K. Rousseau
AGENCY NAME: Department of Marine Resources
ADDRESS: 21 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333
WEB SITE: http://www.maine.gov/dmr/rulemaking/
 E-MAIL: dmr.rulemaking@maine.gov
TELEPHONE: (207) 624-6573  FAX: (207) 624-6024

The proposed regulation would enact a swipe card reporting system for elver dealers and require dealers to maintain records of all elver transactions. The purpose of this portion of the proposed rule is to obtain more accurate and timely information on the amount of elvers caught or landed in Maine for use in fisheries management as well as to demonstrate the social and economic importance of marine resources to Maine. The swipe card system is also a more secure system in which harvesters and dealers cannot easily conduct transactions to sell or purchase illegal elvers.

The proposed rule would require elver harvester license holders to present a swipe card to be used by the dealer in order to record each transaction. It would also require dealers to report what they receive from harvesters on a weekly basis during the elver harvesting season using approved electronic reporting methods. Dealers will be required to provide their own computers for reporting (laptops or PC’s), but the reporting software and the swipe card readers/receipt printers will be provided by DMR. In addition, this rule would require elver dealers to maintain paper records for all elver transactions, including dealer-to-dealer transactions, for three years.

Emergency rulemaking was enacted earlier in 2013 that required elver dealers to report quantities on a weekly basis. Previously, elver dealer license holders were required to report information to DMR on a monthly basis. Weekly electronic reporting of elver landings will give the DMR timely and critical information for enforcement and resource protection of this valuable fishery. Finally, this rule would also update the reporting compliance section with license suspension authority that was enacted in state law as well as update the primary buyer permit language.

This regulation also makes amendments in order to come into compliance with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) American Eel Management Board August 2013 approval of Addendum III to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for American Eel. The State of Maine is mandated to implement and enforce fisheries management plans of the ASMFC under the Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act of 1993 (ACFCMA). These changes are reflected in this proposed new version of Chapter 32 Eels.

Addendum III establishes a 9” minimum size limit for recreational and commercial yellow eel fisheries, trip-level reporting for the commercial yellow eel fishery, a seasonal closure of silver eel fisheries, a 25 recreational fish per day creel limit, and measures to restrict the development of fisheries on pigmented eels. It also calls for the implementation of state-specific monitoring
programs and provides recommendations for habitat improvements. States will be required to implement the Addendum’s measures by January 1, 2014. The Board’s actions respond to the findings of the 2012 benchmark stock assessment indicating the American eel population in U.S. waters is depleted. The stock has declined in recent decades and the prevalence of significant downward trends in multiple surveys across the coast is cause for concern. Many of these changes required by ASMFC are already implied in existing Maine law and regulations and therefore do not need to be changed. In some cases, Maine law and regulations are stronger than the new ASMFC compliance requirements.

A re-ordering and deletion of obsolete or redundant sections of Chapter 32 Eels are proposed in order to improve readability and compliance. Finally, closed areas for elver fishing are proposed to be added in Penobscot and Hancock County in order to clarify legal fishing boundaries in Chapter 32.03(1)(A). Little or no impact on legal elver harvesting is expected from these new area closures.

End of proposed Rule 

Oct 29, 2013

A Hywind Maine Restrospective

Statoil's Hywind Maine venture rose and fell between 2011 and 2013.  The proposal to set floating windmills offshore of Boothbay Harbor

Here are highlights of that process, including recordings of public events media coverage

July 5, 2013 Statoil puts Hywind Maine project on hold. Boothbay Register 

July 5, 2013 Statoil Freezes Hywind Maine ProjectOffshore Wind Biz

*January 24, 2013. Maine's Public Utilities Commission approves Statoil's modified proposal Media coverage of PUC  decision   **** Statoil's comments to PUC, 8/156/12

December 31, 2012 deadline to comment on Statoil plan; Federal Register notice

10/23/12 BOEM held Public Info meeting on Statoil in Boothbay. Meeting Coverage in Pen Bay Blog ( Listen to audio links here

6/26/12 BOEM and Statoil hold public info meeting in Rockland Pictures, interviews here ..... Pre-meeting review of planned meetings on June 25, 26 and 27,in Boothbay, Portland & Rockland.

May 23, 2012. Feds/Maine ocean energy task force e-meeting considered next 2 steps in process reviewing Statoil's 4-turbine floating windpark plan.  

April 4, 2012. Norwegian energy giant Statoil says it has not received enough subsidies from the state of Maine and the US Government to carry out its deepwater floating windfarm project off Boothbay Harbor, Maine. floating windmills.

3/12/12 Fishermen give chilly reception to Statoil offshore wind plan at 2012 Maine Fishermen's Forum. Media Coverage of 2012 Forum

12/08/11 Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Public Information meeting about Statoil plan off Maine

Bay Flashback: How Searsport citizens stopped an LNG tank proposal in 2004

In 2004 the people of Searsport, with the help of residents of some surrounding communities, were able to wring a "no LNG terminals in Searsport ever" concession from Maine Governor John Baldacci and his Department of Transportation.  The governor agreed " to defer to a host municipality before taking state actions in support of any LNG proposal".  (6/1/4 letter below)

Read a close-in description of that entire struggle, as compiled by Governor Baldacci's staff for a June 2004 Freedom of Access Law request to Governor Baldacci's office,   
NOTE: USE YOUR BACK BUTTON TO RETURN TO THIS PAGE These links are  "wayback machine" archived versions of these files.

The below Searsport/LNG related files from October 2013 to June 2004 vividly illustrates the intense maneuvering of all parties from citizens  and ENGOs to the transportation industry and its adherents .  List of Governor's staff & agency heads mentioned. Other FOA'd documents  (All documents are transcriptions of original documents)

  October 27 2003 - March 3, 2004 by date

Additional 2003-2004 Documents by topic

Governor Baldacci & LNG: Security & Public Safety
LNG Security Review of Boston Harbor & Everett LNG facility (& Harpswell) Undated) Dept of Public Safety's memo to Adams & Stearns re DPS' LNG 'Perspective' report 10/29/03
Report by DPS: "LNG: A Perspective on Security & Safety" unsigned, undated
Maine Emergency Management Agency to Baldacci advisor -overview of LNG security issues undated

Governor Baldacci and "political" side of LNG issues in Maine.
David Bright, friend of Baldacci's, offers Sears Island & LNG political advice 5/20/04 2/20/04

Governor Baldacci and towns and state legislators on LNG
Governor's form letter on LNG ("sent to 92 constituents") 5/25/04
Stockton Springs Selects write to Waldo County with LNG concerns 3/12/04
3 Legislators write Baldacci with LNG concerns. 3/29/04
Baldacci writes to Searsport 4/4/04
Waldo County Commissioners write JEB with concerns 4/13/04
Searsport writes to Baldacci; asks for official "No LNG without town support" letter in writing. 4/15/04
Searsport invites Governor to Searsport LNG gathering. 4/22/04
Baldacci writes to Waldo County Commissioners & area legislators about LNG 6/1/04

Governor Baldacci & Sierra Club communications on LNG 
Sierra Club writes to Baldacci calls for LNG planning 2/23/04
Baldacci's policy advisor responds to Sierra Club 3/304
MDOT Commissioner Cole writes to Sierra Club 4/6/04
Sierra Club writes again to Baldacci, "puzzled" by non response) 4/28/04 
Baldacci policy analyst Stearns sets meeting with Sierra Club, Islesboro Island Trust 5/19/04

Governor Baldacci and Federal Govt "pre-emption" on LNG
MDEP Commissioner gets report on state's existing LNG laws & regulations 11/26/03
Nagusky to DEP and Gov's chief counsel on FERC powers 4/22/04
Nagusky sends Littel & Stearns copies of FERC Preemption Order #CP04-58 4/22/04

Describes federal document on who controls LNG decisions 4/28/04
Citizens Energy writes to Baldacci about FERC & Maine 5/14/04
CLF writes to FERC & Governor about LNG in New England 5/5/04
CLF writes to New England Governors, Congress about LNG 5/5/04

Governor Baldacci and Quoddy LNG plan.
Notes from LNG meeting at Pleasant Point undated
Quoddy Bay LLC's "Fact Sheet" distributed at a public meeting with Passamaquaddy tribe.
Umphrey to Cashman on Portland investors for Washington County LNG 5/19/04
Baldacci's draft Quoddy LLC statement 6/8/04


* FOA documents from CommIssioner of Economic Development Jack Cashman, March 2004 Click Here
* FOA documents from Governor Baldacci, Oct 3 '03 to March 3 2004 Click Here

Above documents may also be found  here:
* FOA documents requested from Governor Baldacci June 25, 2004 to September 29, 2004. Click here
* FOA documents from Governor Baldacci April - June 2004. Click Here
* FOA documents from Jack Cashman Commissioner, DECD, January 1st to March 2004 Click Here



Town of Searsport, Maine
P. O. Box 499
Searsport, Maine 04974
548-6372 • 548-2300

April 15, 2004

The Honorable John Elias Baldacci
Governor of Maine
1 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0001

Dear Governor Baldacci,
This is the formal request by the Town of Searsport Board of Selectmen and residents that we have the State's Proclamation that nothing will happen in regards to industry within the Town of Searsport without the people of Searsport being allowed a voice in this process. The Town realizes there is State owned property within its boundaries and we hope the State realizes that this property has a tremendous impact on the people of Searsport.

The factors important to the Selectmen and the residents would include but not necessarily be limited to the following:
1. The company interested and its main function
2. The size of the facility
3. The number of employees and skill levels involved with employment
4. Any agency approval processes
5. Any description the State has for safety that might be needed for residents
6. Any description(s) of impact studies and analyses.
7. Any "letters of intent" or "option" would not be given prior to the Town having input as to the industry
8. Specifics on how residents and Town Officials alike would convey their concerns and questions to the Governors office or appropriate agency offices.
9. Lastly, the Town would like to know of, or be involved with the development of, any Alternative Economic Plans the State may have for State owned property within the boundaries of Searsport

This is a list of some concerns our residents might have and some have been addressed previously. The Town has been told that if the Selectmen request a formal proclamation from Governor Baldacci he will write one for us. We appreciate this offer and are now taking you up on it. The Town of Searsport is holding a Special Town Meeting on May 15, 2004 at 9:00 A.M. and would like to have this letter by that date.

The Town of Searsport and its residents wishes to express its respective gratitude for the time and consideration of this letter and requests within.

Searsport Board of Selectmen
Joseph Perry, Chair
Carol Hersom, Vice Chair
Bruce Mills
John S. Herrithew
Board of Selectmen
Governor John Baldacci
Alan Stearns Commissioner
David Cole
Brian Nutter, Port Authority
Greg Nadeau Fred Michaud,
State Planning Office
Senator Carol Weston
Maine's Fastest Growing Industrial Deep Water Port



May 4, 2004

Board of Selectmen
Town of Searsport
P.O. Box 499
Searsport, ME 04974

Dear Members of the Board of Selectmen of Searsport:

I write in response to your letter dated April 15, 2004, requesting a local voice in the process of industrial development in Searsport.

With respect to any proposal to develop an LNG facility in any town in Maine, I have previously stated that I will defer to local governments as key decision-makers before taking action to support any particular proposal.

With respect to any proposal to develop an LNG facility on land owned by MaineDOT in the Town of Searsport, MaineDOT will not enter into any formal agreement with an LNG developer without the support of the Town of Searsport.
 A necessary first step is a vote of the Selectmen or a vote of the Town providing direction on how the Town would like to proceed.
The letter of the Selectmen dated April 15, 2004, inquires more broadly regarding industrial and economic development in the Town of Searsport. My letter today deals narrowly with LNG development. I know that MaineDOT has actively communicated its interest in working with Searsport in the town's comprehensive planning and implementation processes. Through that process, the community and MaineDOT can work toward defining a vision for the future of Searsport and Sears Island.
John E. Baldacci
cc: Senator Carol Weston
Representative Don Berry
Commissioner David Cole

Oct 22, 2013

Farewell to paper nav charts - Uncle Sam says: read online or download a copy

It seems unbelievable.  NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey, which in 1862 began creating and maintaining the nautical charts of U.S. coastal waters, today announced that starting April 13, 2014, the federal government will no longer print traditional paper nautical charts. 

For a limited time, full-scale PDF  nautical charts are available for free download. This is on a "trial basis", so get their pdf maps while they're there.

The Stockton Harbor/Long Cove image is extracted from on of these charts (our caption).

Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, director of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey said with marvellous understatement:  “We know that changing chart formats and availability will be a difficult change for some mariners who love their traditional paper charts."

 NOAA said  that the decision to stop production is based on the declining use of lithographic charts, the increasing use of digital and electronic charts, and "federal budget realities".

As for electronic charts, NOAA will continue to create and maintain  the increasingly popular Print on Demand (POD) charts.  They will also maintain NOAA's electronic navigational charts and raster navigational charts, (both updated weekly) along with the pdf nautical charts.

All are available for free download from the Coast Survey website.

Oct 15, 2013

Do upper Penobscot Bay marine fogs carry bay-upwelled mercury to upland coastal vegetation? And air breathers?

Marine fog has been shown on the west coast to carry vaporized mercury rising from a polluted seafloor area via water upwelling onto the leaves of mainland trees and other vegetation where the fog penetrates.  How about here? 
Sears Island getting fogged
Across the  continent, the  researchers at the UC Santa Cruz released a study in 2012 Total and monomethyl mercury in fog water from the central California coast.  Peter S. Weiss-Penzias, et al found that marine fog  collectively accounted for from 7–42% of elemental mercury and from 61–99% of methylmercury in total atmospheric deposition estimated for the coastal area . (Other vectors are rain, and dry deposition.)

According to that report"These initial measurements suggest that fog precipitation may constitute an important but previously overlooked input of MMHg to coastal environments. Preliminary comparisons of these data with associated chemical, meteorological and oceanic data suggest that biotically formed MMHg from coastal upwelling may contribute to the MMHg in fog water."

While this has been shown to be the case on a portion of the California Coast, the issue has not been examined in Maine. 

However, a significant amount of the tons of mercury spilled and leaked into the lower Penobscot River by HoltraChem has made its way into the sediments of the upper Penobscot Bay, according to a court ordered study.

In areas of the upper bay where upwelling is strong, it is likely that fog in the waters off Searsport, Belfast Stockton Springs and Islesboro and Castine could be transporting mercury to terrestrial vegetation and air breathers on the shore.

There are several prominent upwelling areas in the upper Penobscot Bay that could carry out that action: According to lobsterman Mike Dassatt,  if mercury tainted sediments are dumped in the Rockland Disposal Site  prevailing bottom currents will transport it up both sides of Islesboro and back to the upper bay. If dumped in the Belfast offshore dumpsite, strong upwelling currents there would even more quickly bring methy mercury to the surface if it were in the dredge spoils dumped there.

What is to be done?  Students at Unity College are preparing to carry out a study that will determine whether mercury can be found in the vegetation of Sears Island as well as long lived intertidal organisms.  The results of that study should be revealing.

Stay tuned.

Oct 10, 2013

Stockton Harbor: are acidic alum waste spoils harming the fish? Studies=96% mortality fish larvae.

What could aluminum pollution of a mudflat do to Stockton Harbor's biota?

Stockton Harbor southwestern shore has expanded into the harbor with significant amounts of  spent acidified bauxite and phosphate waste from historic alum and superphosphate  fertilizer  production dumped onto wooden cribs that expanded the shoreline bluff at the southwest end of the Harbor over top of part of the beach. Does it matter?

Researchers have been looking for some time into the effect on the survival of fish and shellfish and even plankton  role of acidified seawater in the uptake of toxic metals by fish and shellfish and their larvae.

Dissolved aluminium in acidic seawater has drawn concern. For either pollutant is relatively low impact until combined


"Larvae subjected to

* a single 24-hour, acid-only pulse of pH 4.5: No mortality
* a single 24 hour acid pulse and a monomeric aluminum pulse:  96% mortality

Significant effects have been noted low pH including pulses of acidity.  Below  are excerpts of  some of those studies, with important points boldfaced for convenience.

Egg and larval pH and aluminum associations  
Klauda et al. (1991) suggest that a range of pH 5.0 to 8.5 for both the alewife egg and prolarva life stage is optimal.  Klauda et al. (1987) suggested that during an acidic pulse between pH 5.5 and 6.2, critical conditions associated with more than 50% direct mortality could occur.

Klauda et al. (1991) found that larvae subjected to a single 24-hour, acid-only pulse of pH 4.5 experienced no mortality, while those subjected to a 24-hour single acid pulse and 446 µg/L inorganic monomeric aluminum pulse suffered a 96% mortality rate.  A single 12-hour acid-only pulse of 4.0 resulted in 38% mortality (Klauda et al. 1991).


The effects of aluminum and acid on the gill morphology in rainbow trout, Salmo gairdneii Robert E. Evans, Scott B. Brown and Toshiaki J. Hara


Homeostasis and Toxicology of Non-Essential Metals ALUMINUM. 
Fish Physiology July 2, 2011, Volume 31, Part B, Pages 67–123
Excerpt: "Toxic mechanisms include impairment of gill ionoregulation (acceleration of passive ion losses and inhibition of their active uptake) by cationic Al species (especially Al3+), and/or respiratory dysfunction due to precipitation of Al(OH)3 or polymerization of aluminum hydroxides on the gill surface during alkalinization of water passing over the gills."


Low concentrations of inorganic monomeric aluminum impair physiological status and marine survival of Atlantic salmon 
Two strains of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) presmolts were exposed for 3 months to moderately acidic water (pH 5.8; 6 2 mug aluminum (Ali) l(-1) inorganic monomeric aluminum-acid exposure group) or non-acid water (pH > 6.5 -6.9; < 5 mug Ali l(-1)-Good/control group) at NINA Research Station, Ims, Southern Norway. Exposure to low concentrations of Ali raised the gill-aluminum (gill-Al) concentration by 20-30 mug At g(-1)

Effects of acidic water and aluminum exposure on gill Na(+), K(+)-ATPase alpha-subunit isoforms, enzyme activity, physiology and return rates in Atlantic salmon

Salmon lice or suboptimal water quality — Reasons for reduced postsmolt survival? Norwegian Institute for Water Quality

1. Introduction
High levels of H+ and aluminium (Al) are lethal to Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) smolts (Rosseland and Staurnes, 1994; Gensemer and Playle, 1999). Water toxicity is related to increased concentrations of H+ (reduced pH) and inorganic monomeric aluminum (Ali) in freshwater. At lethal concentrations, H+ acts primarily on the permeability of the cell membrane disrupting ionoregulation, whereas aluminum exerts its toxic properties by accumulation on and in the gill tissue, disrupting ionoregulation and impairing respiration. At lower concentrations, Al can still affect population traits by affecting growth, swimming performance, immune defence, behaviour and seawater tolerance (Rosseland and Staurnes, 1994; Staurnes et al., 1995, 1996; Kroglund and Staurnes, 1999; Ytrestøyl et al., 2001; Kroglund and Finstad, 2003).

Environment Canada Aluminum Salts and fish and plankton Aquatic Organisms
Most of the research on the impact of aluminum on aquatic life has been related to the impacts of acid rain. In this report, emphasis was placed on the potential toxic impacts of aluminum in waters of neutral or near-neutral pH as the available information suggests that releases associated with the three aluminum salts being assessed occur primarily into waters of circumneutral pH (Roy 1999b; Germain et al., 2000). As described below, because of this consideration, the most relevant effects data identified were for fish. This assessment report does not provide a detailed examination of potential effects from exposure to polymeric aluminum, as polymeric aluminum is most likely to form, and to cause toxicity, during the neutralization of acidic aluminum-rich waters and this is unlikely to occur in the release scenarios considered in this assessment (Roy 1999b).
The gills are the primary target organ for aluminum in fish (Dussault et al. 2001). Aluminum binds to the gill surface, causing swelling and fusion of the lamellae and increased diffusion distance for gas exchange (Karlsson-Norrgren et al. 1986; Tietge et al. 1988). The resulting damage leads to loss of membrane permeability, reduced ion uptake, loss of plasma ions, and changes in blood parameters relating to respiration. Fish death may result from ionoregulatory or respiratory failure, or a combination of both, depending upon the pH of the water and concentration of waterborne aluminum (Neville 1985; Booth et al. 1988; Gensemer and Playle 1999). Ionoregulatory disturbances prevail at lower pH (e.g., below 4.5) and relate to decreased levels of plasma Na+ and Cl¯ ions (Neville 1985; Gensemer and Playle 1999). At pH levels above 5.5, binding of the positively charged aluminum species to negatively charged sites on the gill surface, with subsequent aluminum polymerization, leads to mucous secretion, clogging of the interlamellar spaces and hypoxia (Neville 1985; Poléo 1995; Poléo et al. 1995; Gensemer and Playle 1999).

Aluminum exposure may also disrupt ionic balance and osmoregulation in aquatic invertebrates (Otto and Svensson 1983). Reduced Na+ and/or Ca2+ uptake in response to aluminum exposure have been documented in crayfish (Appleberg 1985; Malley and Chang 1985), mayfly nymphs (Herrmann 1987) and the water boatman, Corixa sp. (Witters et al. 1984). Aluminum reduced Na+ influx and, to a lesser extent, increased outflux, in Daphnia magna, thereby impairing osmoregulation (Havas and Likens 1985). 

Aluminum may disrupt the respiratory organs of some invertebrates, such as the anal papillae of the phantom midge, Chaoborus sp. (Havas 1986). Respiratory effects can occur when acidic waters are rapidly neutralized, such as when an acidic tributary enters a larger, neutral receiving stream, leading to the formation of mononuclear and polynuclear aluminum species from the dissolved ion (Gensemer and Playle 1999). These species may bind to or precipitate onto the bodies of invertebrates, creating a physical barrier to respiration. Aluminum has been reported to impair reproduction in Daphnia magna (Beisinger and Christensen 1972), although recent work with Daphnia pulexsuggests that adaptive strategies which heighten survivorship and fecundity may occur following long-term exposure to sublethal levels (Wold et al. 2005). Hall et al. (1985) reported that aluminum may reduce the surface tension of water, affecting egg deposition, emergence, feeding and mating behaviour of some stream invertebrates.


Literature Review and Analysis of the Chronic and Acute Toxicity of Aluminum in Aquatic Environments  FINAL REPORT - March 27,1998
Robert W. Gensemer, Ph.D. Department of Biology, Boston University, and Richard C. Playle, Ph.D. Department of Biology, Wilfrid Laurier University Canada

"Investigating the biological effects of aluminum has become a major focus of
aquatic research. Much of this interest stems from recent work on the biological effects of acidic precipitation, because Al becomes more soluble and, hence, potentially more toxic to aquatic biota at acidic pH. Starting around 1980, it became widely accepted that Al was a major factor affecting the success of aquatic organisms and communities in acidic habitats (Cronan and Schofield 1979, Drablos and Tollan 1980, Muniz and Levistad 1980, Schofield and Trojnar 1980).

Since then, research on the biological effects of acidification often has supported the contention that Al can be a major factor responsible for the demise of biotic communities (Dillon et al. 1984, Campbell and Stokes 1985, Schindler 1988, Charles 1991, Last and Watling 1991, Scheuhammer 1991)"


Episodic acidification of small streams in the northeastern United States:  Fish  mortality in field bioassays.
Van Sickle J(a); Baker J P; Simonin H A; Baldigo B P; Kretser W A;  Sharpe W E
Excerpt Ecological Application  6 (2):p408-421 1996
In situ bioassays were performed as part of the Episodic Response  Project, to evaluate the effects of episodic stream acidification on  mortality of brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) and forage fish species.  We report  the results of 122 bioassays in 13 streams of the three study  regions: the Adirondack mountains of New York, the Catskill mountains of  New York, and the Northern Appalachian Plateau of Pennsylvania.

Bioassays  during acidic episodes had significantly higher mortality than did   bioassays conducted under nonacidic conditions, but there was little  difference in mortality rates in bioassays experiencing acidic episodes  and those experiencing acidic conditions throughout the test period.  Multiple logistic regression models were used to relate bioassay  mortality rates to summary statistics of time-varying stream chemistry  (inorganic monomeric aluminum, calcium, pH, and dissolved organic carbon)  estimated for the 20-d bioassay periods.

The large suite of candidate   regressors also included biological, regional, and seasonal factors, as  well as several statistics summarizing various features of aluminum  exposure duration and magnitude. Regressor variable selection and model  assessment were complicated by multicollinearity and overdispersion.
For  the target fish species, brook trout, bioassay mortality was most closely  related to time-weighted median inorganic aluminum. Median Ca and minimum  pH offered additional explanatory power, as did stream-specific aluminum  responses. Due to high multicollinearity, the relative importance of  different aluminum exposure duration and magnitude variables was  difficult to assess, but these variables taken together added no  significant explanatory power to models already containing median  aluminum.

Between 59 and 79% of the variation in brook trout mortality  was explained by models employing between one and five regressors.  Simpler models were developed for smaller sets of bioassays that tested  slimy and mottled sculpin (Cottus cognatus and C. bairdi) as well as  blacknose dace (Rhinichthys atratulus).

For these forage species a single  inorganic aluminum exposure variable successfully accounted for 86-98% of  the observed mortality. Even though field bioassays showed evidence of  multiple toxicity factors, model results suggest that adequate mortality  predictions can be obtained from a single index of inorganic Al  concentrations during exposure periods.

Oct 8, 2013

Maine Metallic Open Pit Mining Rules Pub Hearing October 17th, Augusta Civic Center.

LD 1853 stripped the environmental safeguards out of Maine's metallic mining laws and regulations, which had been in effect for 30 years. 

Now the state must implement rules to interpret the law. Maine's very pro-mining Commissioner of Environmental Protection has come up  these draft Rules for Metallic Mineral Exploration, Advanced Exploration and Mining.

On October 17th starting 9am the Maine  Board of Environmental Protection  will hold a public hearing on these rule changes starts at  the Augusta Civic Center. 

More details from NRCM.... More details from Maine Audubon  

Listen to recordings of  two  March 2013 public hearings on LD 1853

Oct 7, 2013

Sears Island: Testing biota for HoltraChem mercury.

 Locations for testing and Recommended actions (see recs at end of essay).
AT ISSUE Reports suggest that the majority of mercury in Penobscot Bay has come down Penobscot River from spills, leaks and dumping of the element by the riverside Holtra Chem Plant  in Orrington.  History of plant.

* Can mercury be detected in the plant and animal biota of Sears Island?
 * Can it be  measured? Is it moving through island or intertidal foodwebs?

Likely origins, transport vectors, and on island-locations of mercury 
"The pattern of 
contamination of the sediments of the Penobscot River and estuary was....

consistent with a large source from the HoltraChem site at Orrington.....
"The spatial pattern of contamination of various species of biota, such as periwinkles, 
mussels, lobsters, tomcod (fish) and cormorants (birds) was also consistent with 
elevated inputs of Hg to the lower Penobscot River below the Veazie dam". 
 [T]hese results indicate that the
 most severe contamination of the Penobscot system is between Brewer on the lower
river and about Fort Point or Sears Island in the upper estuary."
(Note: see maps of  study sample sites in the river and bay on page 20 of thPenobscot River Mercury Study Phase I)

Bathymetry & hydrology questions. Does Sears Island's shape, location, hydrology and bathymetry influence where mercury might accumulate on the island?

Larger image click here
In what locations would what Sears Island biota, including intertidal and upland) be likely to absorb mercury? Particularly methyl mercury. What species might have it in detectable quantities? 

Changes in Sears Island Hydrology 
The Sears Island causeway has halted the flow of water around the island since the 980s (See a 1970s picture of causeway-free Sears Island from mainland. (courtesy  Maine Historic Preservation Commission).  Has this changed the sites of mercury deposition?

 The Jellison Channel between Sears Island and Cape Jellison was surveyed in 1999 by the NOAA vessel Rude (pronounced "Rudy"), at the request of Penobscot Bay Watch. The Rude produced this image of the channel floor (full size) The image shows that currents continue to sweep the floor of the channel clean of mud. Are those currents bringing mercury into Stockton Harbor?

Intertidal flats and beaches on the east or west sides of Sears Island

Penobscot River Mercury Study Phase 2: Upper Penobscot Bay.  Belfast lobsterman Mike Dassatt gathered sample lobsters from the upper Bay area under a special license from DMR  for mercury examination (Red triangle).
Click here for fullsized image
 The  report has yet to be released.   Dassatt described the lobsters  collected inside the red triangle (quotes are his words
"There is a  pretty heavy concentration of mercury" along the line between the II Buoy and the Gong 1 Buoy. (the long edge of the triangle). 

"But the very hottest  reach is the shoal edge above  the deeper water east of  the DMP buoy", (the shoal edge is the wiggly line inside the red triangle) Mike said that while he did not take sample lobsters from the exact bay floor the Army Corps of Engineers wants to dredge, which is northeast of the DMP buoy, he is confident that the same elevated mercury will be found in that area if they do test lobsters there for it. 

Marine fog deposition of upwelling mercury onto upland vegetation.
This has not been examined in Maine to the best of our knowledge. (See 2012 UCSC paper Total and monomethyl mercury in fog water from the central California coast, Peter S. Weiss-Penzias, et al. 2012 and these  "general public" articles
According to that study: "[U]sing a standard fog water collector, depositions of HgT [elemental mercury] and MMHg [methylmercury] via fog were found to range from 42–4600 and 14–1500 ng m−2 y−1, which accounted for 7–42% of HgT and 61–99% of MMHg in total atmospheric deposition (fog, rain, and dry deposition), estimated for the coastal area." 

There are several prominent upwelling areas in the upper Penobscot Bay that could carry out that action: The top of the channel   According to lobsterman Mike Dassatt,  if mercury tainted sediments are dumped in the Rockland Disposal Site  prevailing bottom currents will transport it up both sides of Islesboro and back to the upper bay. 

1.  Sample or collect plant, animal & algae species, driftwood and sediments in  intertidal areas on both sizes and both ends of Sears Island.

2. Sample or collect samples from trees and other vegetation & fungi species and soils in a transect across  Sears Island to determine if mercury deposition from fog is significant.

3. Use mercury detection  paper test strips for initial onsite  test results

4. Test for mercury and methylmercury in Unity College lab. Compare results to  mercury test strips' results.

5. Use results and determine  if initial questions can be answered:  
*  Can mercury be detected in the plant and animal biota of Sears Island?
 * Can it be  measured? Is it moving through island or intertidal foodwebs?