Mar 30, 2014

Bay History: 2007. Maine DEP rejects Samoset Pier Plan

Knox Village Soup 2007

Department of Environmental Protection denies Samoset pier

Samoset pier 300
ROCKLAND — The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has denied Samorock LLC a permit to construct a pier, ramp and float on Rockland Harbor.
DEP Commissioner David Littell signed the order April 13, according to Jim Cassida of the DEP. Samorock, the parent company of the Samoset Resort, has until May 13 to appeal that decision to either the Board of Environmental Protection or Knox County Superior Court.
The DEP order, issued under the site location of development law, follows months of review by the state’s environmental agency of Samorock’s proposed pier.
"After reviewing the evidence in the record and viewing the project site, the department finds that there is at least one practicable alternative to the project that would be less damaging to the environment," the order said.
Samorock LLC, which owns the Samoset Resort in Rockland and Rockport, is moving through the regulatory process with both towns, as well as with the state, to permit a major expansion. The project includes construction of a pier, as well as new condominiums and cottages.
Two weeks ago, the Rockland City Council approved in first reading a proposed zone change that would allow Samorock LLC to construct 45 housing units on 18 acres adjacent to and accessed by the road leading to the Samoset Resort.
Last fall, the DEP issued an order approving the Samoset's condominium plans for Rockland.
In Rockport, the town’s planning board gave final approval to the Samoset’s proposed 49 cottages, a community building and a spa at its April 11 meeting.
As proposed by Samorock, the pier would be closer to the proposed Rockland condominiums and accessed from Samoset Resort property. It would extend into Rockland Harbor by 550 feet. The 12-foot-wide pier would include a 50-foot ramp and a 140-foot float, according to the draft permit on file at the Augusta office of the DEP.
The total length of the pier, ramp and float would be 740 feet.
The proposed float would accommodate three to four boats at a time for on-loading and off-loading passengers, the DEP said.
The order's suggested practicable alternative to the pier would be to use existing marina facilities in Rockland Harbor, as well as the existing ramp and float attached to the Rockland Breakwater. The order suggests the Samoset use road and water shuttles to transport residents and Samoset guests to and from their boats located at moorings in the established mooring area of Rockland Harbor.
The order concluded that the pier would unreasonably interfere with existing scenic, aesthetic, recreational and navigational uses, and that it would unreasonably harm a significant wildlife habitat.

Mar 27, 2014

Maine's new Lobster Marketing Collaborative meets with Maine legislature AUDIO

Will it help or hinder?

On March 26, 2014, representatives of Maine's new Lobster Marketing Collaborative gave a presentation the Maine Legislature's Marine Resources Committee on their plans for increasing Maine's market share in the seafood business.  Below listen to the Collaborative's executive director Marianne LaCroix  and the legislators discuss the many issues & expectation for the Collaborative. Remarkably, despite the considerable  challenge to the industry brought by the recent revelations of mercury in Penobscot River lobsters and the growing likelihood that furt investigations will show

1.  FULL Meeting 60 minutes  

2. Broken down  into @ 10 minute sections for ease of listening
* Part 1.  10 minutes      * Part 2.  11min     * Part 3.  9 min 34 sec 

* Part 4.  11 minutes     * Part 5. 9 minutes   * Part 6,   9 minutes

Mar 25, 2014

Lobster Processing: Why Maine banned it in 1895

The competitive rush presently underway to set up lobster processors on the Maine coast must end with winners and losers There will be immense temptation to win that race by increasing yield, which coneither be done by acquiring more of the hsare of lobsters dockside, or  by processing undersized and/or oversize lobsters. In fact, when lobster processing was okayed by the 125th Legislature, the Marine patrol expressed its concern over the potential for enforcement difficulty. 

 Here is some historic information on the enforcement challenges of lobster processing  that led finally to its prohibition in Maine.from Maine Sea and Shore Fishery biennial reports between 1900 and 1908, include which the S&S commissioners and several of their wardens describing the issues associated with oversight of lobster processing. Each excerpt has a link to a copy of the report it came from. The below essay can also be read as the Penobscot Bay Blog entry  Why Maine banned lobster processing in 1895

Lobster Processing: why Maine BANNED it in 1895Compiled by Ron Huber, Penobscot Bay Watch  Thanks to the rise of national railroads, steam shipping, postal services and telegraphy in the middle and late 19th century, the national & international market for processed Maine lobster meat exploded out of control in the 1880s and 1890s, and threatened to drive lobsters into commercial extinction. The below excerpts from Maine Sea  and Shore Fisheries  Reports  from between 1901 and 1908 describe what happened, and why the Maine legislature and Governor acted. (Note: lobsters then were measured from tip of snout to fork of  the tail, so the legal sizes mentioned in these reports are larger than today's carapace-only measure.)

(1A )From: Maine Sea and Shore Fisheries 1901-1902.  Pages 26-27
"Lobsters....This fishery should have more than a passing notice. It is worthy of protection. It is a home industry. As each year rolls around more men, more boats, more traps, are being added to the business. It is unlike any other fishing. There is no salting, no curing, no waiting for a market, no anxiety about a market. They are staple goods as gold from Klondike mines.

"Prior to '95 we had many canning factories on our coast, whose only business was to can lobsters from April 15 to July 15 upwards of nine inches in length. The lobster business was almost annihilated. The can lobster filled almost every grocery store from the Pacific to the Atlantic. The people of the great West knew only canned lobster. Prior to '95 there had never been a live lobster shipped beyond the western border of New York state. 

"Lobsters had become scarce on our coast owing to the constant drain upon the small lobsters for factories. One of the methods of destruction in the canning days was the habit of carrying from three to five inches lobsters before the close time was off, crowding from 3,000 to 5,000 into space not large enough for 2,000, and on the 15th of April when the factories
"could secure them, more than half of the small fish were dead. It is said that one million were lost in this way each spring. We had but five wardens then and they were very poorly paid to look after the business. I have only shown a part of the willful destruction under the old law to compare with what has been done under the law of '95, when factories practically went out of business, never to return, I hope.

"The 10 and 1/2-inch law is the best for the protection of the young lobsters we have ever had. The fishermen claim that it is the salvation of the lobster industry, but it does not suit everyone - the violators or the summer tourists.

"The business has increased since '95. The number of men has increased four-fold ; the traps and gear have increased; the prices received have increased; pounds from four in '95 to twenty-three in 1902. Steam smacks have taken the place of sailing smacks; rapid transit and refrigerator cars are carrying our lobsters all over our country. 

Each year the demand is greater, and the question is - Can we ever supply the demand? Answer - Yes. Good liberal appropriations, great care and attention will increase the supply of lobsters and all will be benefited thereby.

"Now take the lobster law. There are certain clauses in our lobster law which make it very hard to enforce. The clause 'mutilated, uncooked lobsteris prima facie evidence of their being short,' while mutilated cooked lobsters although short are all right. I have found in several instances mutilated cooked claws and tails of lobsters. If not less than the required length where were the bodies of these lobsters ?

"The lobster dealers may say it will hurt their business to make a law stopping the sale and transportation of lobster meat, but it should be done. What is the lobster meat that the dealers sell? It is nothing more or less than 'dead' lobster which they pick out of their cars every morning and boil and pick out the meat. Now this is no guessing, but something that I have seen for years. 

"Another way the dealers get rid of a good many dead lobsters is by selling them to the hawkers or peddlers, and they will take all they can get. In certain localities the fishermen will break the claws and tails from the bodies and throw the bodies away. At their homes someone will have the water hot and in a few minutes the claws and tails will be cooked, so the wardens cannot take them if they can get into their houses, which they can't do without a search warrant which is about impossible to get."  Letter from Warden George E. Cushman.

"Warden Isaac H. Snow states in his letter: "I would have the lobster law changed so that wardens can take mutilated lobsters cooked as well as uncooked."

"From the introduction of the lobster canning process at Eastport, about 1842, dates the beginning of the extensivecanning interests of the United States in all its branches. Lobster canning was first attempted in the United States at Eastport shortly after 1840, and was made successful in 1843, the method finally employed having been borrowed from Scotland, which country is said to have learned the process from France.
For the successful introduction of the same into the United States we are indebted to Mr. Charles Mitchell, who at that time resided in Halifax, N. S., who learned his trade of John Moir & Son of Aberdeen, Scotland, the first Scotch firm, it is claimed, to put up hermetically sealed preparations of meat and fish.

"Mr. U. S. Treat, a native of Maine, appears to have been most active and influential in starting the enterprise and introducing canned goods into the markets of the United States. Mr. Treat, with a Mr. Noble of Calais, and a Mr. Holliday, a native of Scotland, started the business of manufacturing hermetically sealed goods in Eastport in 1842, experimenting with lobsters, salmon, and haddock. Their capital was limited, appliances crude, and many discouraging canning difficulties were encountered. The experiments were continued for two years with varying success and in secret, no outsiders being allowed to enter their bathing room.

"In 1843 they secured the services of Mr. Charles Mitchell, who moved to Eastport. After Mr. Mitchell's arrival in Eastport no further difficulty was experienced in the bathing or other
Page 40

"preparations of the lobsters, and a desirable grade of goods was put up, but found no sale, as such preparations were unknown in our markets. Mr. Treat visited our large cities with samples, but was unable to make sales except on consignment. In 1846 Mr. Treat purchased the island between Eastport and Lubec, which has ever since been known as Treat's Island. In 1854 to 1856 we find him shipping canned lobsters to California. In 1850 there were but three canneries in the United States. In 1856 J. Winslow Jones of Portland commenced canning. In 1843 a one-pound can of lobster sold for five cents, three and one-half pounds, live weight, were required to make a one pound can. No lobsters weighing less than two pounds were then used for canning.

"Concerning the period from 1850 to 1880 sufficient information has not been collected to furnish a connected history of the progress of lobster canning.

"In 1880 there were twenty-three canneries on the coast of Maine, and over forty in the British provinces controlled by United States capital. The combined cash capital invested in the twenty-three factories in Maine was $289,834.

"In addition to the cannery buildings, the several Portland firms which were operating canneries had factories in that city for the manufacture of tin cans and wooden cases, and also warehouses for the storage of the finished product.

"Of the twenty-three , canneries in this State in 1880 ten prepared lobsters only, six, lobsters and mackerel, one,lobsters and clams, six, lobsters, mackerel and clams, and one of the last also put up salmon, fish chowder, and clam chowder.

"In 1879 the factory at Southwest Harbor began to put up lobsters in the shell for export trade. They were boiled, the tail bent under the body, and then packed in cylindrical tin cans twelve and fourteen inches long, put into the cans dry, bathed afterwards and vented in the usual manner. These lobsters were used chiefly for garnishing dishes for the table. In 1879 Mr. J. W. Jones estimated the average weight of lobsters taken for all purposes in Maine 1 ½ pounds; N. S., 2 pounds; Bay of Chaleurs, 2 ½ and Magdaline Islands, 3 pounds.
In 1879 one small steamer was used for collecting lobsters for the factory at Castine. The smacks of that time had an average
Page 41

valuation of about three hundred and fifty dollars ($350). The price obtained by the fishermen in 1880 average about one dollar per hundred (count) for canning lobsters. It is reckoned in 1880 that 9,494,284 pounds oflobsters were used at the Maine canneries, valued at $94,943, from the fishermen, and the number of men supplying the same was not far from 1,200, and nearly, if not quite all of these, were also interested in selling to market smacks, which yielded much greater profits.

From the 9,494,284 pounds of live lobster used by the canneries 2,000,000 pounds of canned lobsters, valued at $238,000 were put up on the coast of Maine. No account of the total production of canned lobsters on the coast of Maine during past years is at hand for comparison with those of 1880, but the fact of a very great falling off in the production from year to year is well known, and can be proved by the statistics of small sections. It is stated that the total production of 1880 was greatly exceeded, in ten years previous to that date, by that of a few canneries alone.
"Until 1842 lobsters were not in sufficient number at Eastport to induce people to fish for them. The canning oflobsters having commenced at Eastport in that year, smacks were sent to the western part of our State for their supplies. In 1855 they first began to fish extensively for lobsters about Eastport.

"In searching for information in relation to the production of our State, I find that the first report of the Fish Commissioners of Maine was made in 1867, the year that I first set foot on Maine soil. From that time forward to 1884 the lobster is never mentioned in any report of the State Commissioners, notwithstanding the canning industry was going on at that time. Salmon and fresh water fish seemed to have had most of the attention of the Commissioners during that period.
"There seems to be no way to compare the production of today with that of the seventies and eighties, for, during the canning period from 1855 to 1890, the U. S. Fish Commission's Report is the only source from which any reliable information is obtainable. In that year, 1880, there were sold to smacks and canners in Maine 14,234,182 pounds of lobsters. At that time they say only lobsters weighing 2 pounds were used for canning. We will figure them as weighing 2 pounds each, which will make the catch of that year 7,117,026 in count, and these were caught by the use of 104,456 pots, which shows an average catch to each pot of 68 lobsters. Thus it is shown at that time our production was far ahead of today. From about that date the catch decreased very rapidly until in 1895, when as I have said elsewhere, laws were enacted to stop the wholesale slaughter which was being made by our canneries, for at that time they were canning those nine inches long, and even smaller.

The canning business, which received the blow given by the legislature of 1895 when it repealed the nine-inch law died in that year, and with the death of the canning industry the lobster business of the State commenced to revive. I consider that in 1893 the business was at its lowest ebb, and since that date, according to statistics, thelobster supply has steadily but slowly increased.

"Our protective laws at the present time, if observed, are adequate; the transportation facilities ample, and the business generally, appears to be in a healthy condition among the dealers. If it is not so with the fishermen then they have only themselves to blame. The laws were enacted at their instigation, and wholly for their benefit, and it lies wholly with them, whether or not they are observed, for if they never save anything but a legal lobster the law never can be violated, no smacksman will be able to purchase one, no dealer can buy or sell one, no person can get any but a legal lobster to eat. 

"In short, unless the fishermen for whom the short lobster law was enacted, save short lobsters nobody in our State can violate it unless by importing from some other state or country. It would seem to anyone not familiar with fishermen and their movements that this would be a simple solution of the whole problem, when by observance of the laws by them ( for whose benefit the law was made, and who know as well as you or I that every violation made by a fisherman is an injury to his own business as well as to his brother fisherman's) that to observe the law would be the only thing he would do.


"Many years ago one of the leading industries connected with the fisheries were the canning factories. These flourished at a time when lobsters were very plentiful, and the regular market price was one cent a pound to the factories and three cents apiece for large lobsters for private use. The fishing season then extended from March to rough weather in the fall, no fishing being done during the winter months. 

"These factories preferred small lobsters, and it would be impossible to estimate the enormous number of young lobsters used by them even in a single season.These factories were the first cause of a large decrease in the annual catch. A law was finally passed making the legal length for canning the same as for ordinary use and it was hoped that the decrease would cease: but the closing of the factories did not stop the destruction of small lobsters. neither did it give the proper protection to the seed-bearing lobster.
The fishermen still continue to
"use the small lobster, even using them for cunner trap bait and hen-food. They also continued, after it became illegal to do so, to rub the seed from the spawn of female lobster, and sell them to the lobster buyers with the other market lobsters. These practices were not only common, but the usual methods of most fishermen. Is it any wonder that the catch became smaller and smaller each year until corrective measures were taken? 

"Finally our legislature passed a law making it illegal to have in possession any lobster below a prescribed length, ten and one-half inches, now three and three-fourths inches body measure; and made a general appropriation for the Department of Sea and Shore fisheries, which provided funds, for a warden service to enforce the law.  

"Their experience from using lobsters of that size has been that they are practically exterminating the speciesAt a meeting recently held in Boston. which was attended by commissioners and representatives of the several states, it was unanimously

"agreed that the Maine legal length, method of measurement, etc., are the best to adopt."

Mar 24, 2014

Dulse et Decorum est. A Lobster's Lament

Dulse Et Decorum Est
A Lobster's Lament.  (with apologies to W.O)

Bent double, like old bait under totes
Knock-kneed, scuttling like crabs, we cursed through sludge,
Till beyond the dangling dredger's clutch, we turned our carapaces
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.

Lobsters crawled, asleep. Many had lost a  claw, a stalked eye
But limped on, ichor-shod. All went lame; half blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the distant roaring sigh
Of dredged up sediments dropping from above.

SPOILS! Spoils! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of stumbling,
but there is no 'scape. No fitted human masks. No just in time.

Someone, then two, then more were  clattering loud and stumbling
And floundering like shrimp in evil steam.
Dim, through the muddy clouds and dimming thick gray light
As under a gray sea, we saw them: drowning!

In all my salted dreams, before my helpless sight,
They plunge at me, guttering, clawing. Drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
around the foul pile some evil skygod flung upon them,
And watch the antennae writhing in the mud above their heads
Their thrashing claws, like preachers peddling sin;

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling at the muck-corrupted gills,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile mercury salting innocent claws and tails,

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To larvae ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro industria mori.

Mar 22, 2014

Rockweed bill: Does it threaten Penobscot Bay fish restoration?

Stockton Harbor, Searsport, Maine
Synopsis: On March 24th  the Maine Legislature's Marine Resources Committee will  be asked  to approve LD 1830  which would set up an industry-over-friendly rockweed management plan. 

The plan  bars conservationists from conservation decisions about this important living habitat and by doing so threatens Penobscot Bay's now  recovering residential finfish populations. Critics will call for a fresh approach at the Monday legislative hearing.

Penobscot Bay was once home to thriving finfisheries, from flounder in nearly every muddy harbor to redfish in the depths, from alewives and eels making their way to and from fresh water, to resident cod and other groundfish moving with the seasons from shallows to shoals to deep waters and round again. Thanks to better state fishery management, stronger pollution controls and the undamming of much of Penobscot River, recovery prospects look bright,

But a bill coming before the Maine Legislature on Monday has serious flaws that threatens to literally pull the rug out from under Bay restoration efforts.

LD 1830 "An Act To Promote Rockweed Habitat Conservation through the Consideration of No-harvest Areas" would change how Maine's agencies look at rockweed, the ubiquitous dark green algae visible  at low tide along much of our shores.  

The bill is a follow up to legislation passed in the last session that directed the  Department of Marine Resources to convene a team of experts to  come up with a management plan for the long-lived algae   

At issue is the quality of the plan and recommendations that DMR submitted to the legislature March 18th. The unevenness of the report shows that DMR has a difficult job being both a conservation agency and a resource extraction agency.  DMR bent over backwards to develop a plan favoring  the seaweed extraction industry, and despite pressure to the contrary, giving harvesters a two to one majority over conservationists on the Rockweed planning team. As a result, though there is much good in the plan, its overemphasis of commercial harvest over conservation is a recipe for disaster.      

If LD 1830 is passed as written, the Department of Marine Resources will be working from a flawed playbook, and will gain authority to have the final say on the number, size and type of areas for rockweed conservation without needing either independent scientific evaluation of the protection sites or legislative approval

If instead, four simple words are added to the bill, this fatal flaw that otherwise cripples the management plan will be repaired and Maine will be proud owner of a Rockweed Management Plan second to none.

For regrettably, the Department of Marine Resources has already shown it is not to be entrusted with such a weighty task. Given the opportunity, DMR  declined to run its draft plan by either the public (owners of the rockweed the agency is so keen to ship off to Canada) nor invite the very conservation  and progressive rockweed harvest communities that could have  better shaped the plan.

No public hearing was held on the very important  very industry- skewed rockweed management plan that the agency falsely represented to the legislature as some sort of consensus document. Terrible policymaking, yet as almost every fisher will tell you, utterly in character.  

Commissioner Keliher should be ashamed of himself for acquiescing in this bill. Not only does it puts the profits of a handful of Canadian seaweed companies above the fisheries future of Maine, it foolishly fences out conservation experts from aiding state decisionmaking on the best locations  for setting out  no-cut zones, on setting the minimum distance form the holdfast.

We want our rockweed to grow seafood and seaducks here, not  create value added  products from it there.

Instead, again, industry knows best, and those who could rescue the agency from the debacle that it seems determined to stumble into are  being sidelined 

And if a young man from Monhegan can start up a lobster processing plant that is giving his Canadian competitors to run for the money, then surely  the proud fraternity of Maine seaweed  experts can shift their allegiance to processing the seaweed business here as well. 

The Canadians themselves don't even allow mechanized seaweed harvesters in their waters.  Why don't we follow their lead and make rockweed harvesting a sustainable hand harvest fishery here, too? 

While the  extractive seaweed industry hopes for  quick approval of the plan, Monday with no hard look at its flaws, rockweed partisans plan to dash those hopes.  

The Marine Resources Committee's success passing laws to conserve elvers has shown it can craft  legislation that combines strong conservation measures with fair access to the resource.

 Both fishermen and Mother Nature  are benefiting because the Committee took the time to immerse itself in the facts and opinions offered by all interested Mainers before making its decisions on glass eels.  

The committee should do the same with LD 1830.

The Marine Resources Committee will either fix it, deep six it, or  direct DMR to convene a fresh review panel - one that fairly represents all the rockweed interests, including the public, coastal parks and other public shores and academic research, when crafting a replacement to this flawed bill.

Having the industry devise its own plan was a mistake.The foxes want to eat the henhouse, not guard it.  

But rockweed is a critical piece of the puzzle in restoring finfisheries to Penobscot Bay.  Let's not sell it short.

Mar 7, 2014

Maine bill to let towns limit marine worm digging passes Marine committee with amendment.

"This bill allows a municipality with a shellfish conservation ordinance to apply to the Department of Marine Resources to request a prohibition on marine worm harvesting. It also makes it a civil violation to harvest marine worms from areas closed to the harvest and possession of marine worms."
Written testimony, in alphabetical order, pdf files
Arsenault, JamesDresden
Coffin, ChadMaine Clammers Assn.
Couture, DarcieLead Scientist/Resource Access International, LLC
Creamer, PamelaWoolwich Shelfish Conservation Committee
Devereaux, DanielBrunswick Marine Resource Officer and Harbor Master
Gerzofsky, StanMaine State Legislature
Gideon, Sara

Maine State Legislature (75 KB)
Add caption
Harrington, DanielWoolwich
Harrington, PhilipWoolwich
Johnson, FredSteuben
Keliher, PatrickDMR
Kent, PeterMaine State Legislature
Latti, MarkBrunswick Marine Resources Committee
Latti, MarkResident
Renwick, JohnBirch Harbor

Mar 3, 2014

Protecting lobsters from pesticides. Maine official announces 2/6/14 a coastwide sediment testing

On February 6th, 2014, the Maine Legislature's Agriculture and Conservation committee  considered  a bill to limit use of two pesticides.  Due to information supplied by  Maine Bpard of  Pesticides Control head Henry Jennings, the committee opted to  refrain from new limits and instead accepted Jennings' plan to organize a coastwide sediment sampling project that will gather information on the present presence of pesticides in coastal coastal sediments.
Listen to the participants below.

Maine Fishermens forum 2014 - Winter flounder trap project

The Eastern Maine Skippers Program and the Winter Flounder Trap Project
In 2012, Deer Isle Stonington High School and Penobscot East Resource Center
collaborated to create the Eastern Maine Skippers Program and  the Winter Flounder Project
1. Introduction 1min 47sec
2. Todd West Deer Isle Stonington High School Principal 23 minutes
3. Carla Guenther,  Penobscot East Resource Center 6min 43 sec
4. Val Peacock1 8 min 18sec
5. Val Peacock 2. 5min 23 sec
6. Val Peacock 3. 14min 47sec
7. Assorted Speakers to end  10 min 14 sec

Mar 2, 2014

Fishermens Forum 2014. Searsport dredge issue taken up by Maine Legislators & DMR Commissioner. AUDIO

The latest word on the Searsport Harbor expansion dredging project,  as spoken by  the Senate Chair of the Maine Legislature's  Marine Resources Committee and by Pat Keliher,  Maine Department of Marine Resources Commissioner, at the Maine Fishermen's Forum Saturday March 1st 2014. 

The committee was holding  an "Ask us about what we've been doing / Tell us what we need to know."  event at the forum Saturday afternoon.  
In photo, Committee members from left: Representative Chuck Kruger, Rep. Ralph Chapman, Rep. Ellen Winchenbach, Senator Chris Johnson, Representative Walter Kumiega, Senator Ed Mazurek and Rep.Mick Devin

In these two short recordings culled from the lengthy event which was hosted by Maine DMR Deputy Commissioner Meredith Mendelson,   Senator Johnson responds to a statement and question by Friendship lobsterman Richard Nelson and  Commissioner Keliher responds to a statement by Ron Huber  of Friends of Penobscot Bay to the Legislators  about oversight of DMR's role in dredging.
Richard Nelson, lobsterman, Robin Hadlock-Seeley, rockweed biologist
Friendship lobsterman Richard Nelson   observed in detail how many  state, federal and NGO marine policy initiatives & programs are floating around in state & federal Gulf of Maine waters, how disconnected from each other they mostly are, and thus ineffective, when it comes to actual "ecosystem" management. Combine that with the mercury problem of the river and  the dredging in the bay, the floating wind plantationing of the lobster and tuna grounds, and things don't look all that good.
SenatorJohnson, Representative Kumiega, Senator Mazurek
Chris Johnson, the Marine Resources Committee's Senate chair responded  for three minutes and 20 seconds and used the Searsport dredging controversy as an example of what the legislators have done to try to meet these challenges including the crafting and sending of a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers in response to the concerns of the people

Ron Huber, executive director of Friends of Penobscot Bay observed that the Marine Resources Committee has oversight of DMR, and that DMR has a key role in decisionmaking on the Searsport dredge expansion plan. 

Representatives Kruger and Chapman
This being a big project, and Maine's longtime environmental reviewer no longer with the agency, and DMR being under tremendous pressure..... 

Would you please as oversight committee, I said, make sure DMR's guy is allowed to review the project without interference?

Commissioner Keliher was asked by the committee to respond to Huber's comments. He replied for 2 minutes 27 seconds. Keliher said he was well aware of the past and recent history of the project. The dredge ball is presently in Maine DEP's court, he said.  When they're reached a certain step, DEP will then ship the whole mass of info to DMR for inspection and review by Keliher's agency

In a long-hoped-for break with the past, Maine's present day commissioner says he has gotten the word from the fishing community that there are problems lurking in those Searsport harbor sediments.  DMR will definitely host a public hearing-with-an-H on the proposal, putting an end to a decades long insistence on holding "public meetings"  not "public hearings", Keliher said that it will be held in "Searsport or Bucksport depending on what type of facility is required."  [?]

Mercer: Speak no evil?
The DMR Commish said a scientific team was being assembled under agency research director Linda Mercer to review the project - a not entirely reassuring revelation, given both the flat horizon of DMR research accomplishments during her decades as research director ** and her acquiescence with the "jobs over nature", "keep-the-public-uninformed, out-of-the-loop, and-at-arms-length" standards so unpleasantly first championed by early1990s DMR Commissioner Robin Alden under Governor Angus King.

Overall? Very good news: Maine's marine agency and its state legislature are on the ball about this project with its bay-disrupting potential.

** Note:  Or if not flat, then they were "stealth" accomplishments. Mercer also seems aggravating offended by public access requests  to review agency documents, as though they are not only holy writ but so holy that profane eyes may not rest upon them except carefully limited  selected documents viewed in absentia from its fellow files.  Even the agency's most completely non confidential environmental  land permit review files are locked  with her approval as tight as that other Fort Knox, down south. This does not bode all that well for transparency among the dredge research team. 

Mar 1, 2014

Maine Fishermens Forum 2014 - Fishery Council rep reviews coming new habitat protection amendment - learns about bay mercury, dredging concerns

Rockport. The New England Fishery Management Council and NOAA's scientific leadership gave updates on important new coastal  habitat protections on the horizon before the members of Maine's fishing communities filling hundreds of folding chairs Friday at the 2014 Maine Fishermens Forum. 

Clamming & lobstering interests were there, and the hookers, harpooners, draggers, gillers and seiners of Maine's finfisheries. A handful of conservation ENGOs and journalists too.
Listen below to Michelle Bachmann, habitat coordinator, New England Fishery Management Council, describe Omnibus Groundfish Habitat Amendment 2 and its implications for all New England fisheries.  This discussion  was followed by a panel of NOAA's top officials who similarly received careful questioning by the assembled.

NEFMC on new coastal habitat protection rules