May 2, 2014

MLA holds lobstermen-only dredge issue presentation in Belfast - Interesting people I met.

I was up at the Belfast library this morning where the Maine Lobstermens Associationwasosting a meeting for lobstermen only with the dredging interests. These include John Henshaw Maine Port Authority, David Gelinas Penobscot Bay & River Pilots, Jay Clements ACOE & Marina Lentine Eggett MDEP on "Private Dredge projects, dredging the piers; Steve Wolfe Army Corps of Engineers expert on Testing dredge and dumping dredge spoils. Attached is a copy of their agenda fopr the meeting and a photo of lobstering filing into the meeting room at the library.

The dredge fighters were there as well, filling the sidewalk in front of the library, knots of fishfolk and and a few 

others seem to have it together in a rather ferocious way (though until they make Maine's US Senators get their boots off the Corps of Engineers neck, so the agency _can_ call for an EIS they may make little progress). 

The lobstermen-only decision is because fishing leaders have noticed that at public hearings on dredging where the greater public is there and often quite emphatic in their positions, the fishfolk feel a bit crowded out and unable to ask questions without the public ooohing or booing at what they say. Its a societal Heisenberg uncertainty principle sort of thing, where the observer modifies the observed and we anti-expansion dredge environmental interests were doing some modifying. So like it or not there it is. 

I went into the room before it started and after an encounter with a worried-then-chilled-out MLA exec director, I got hold of John Henshaw of the port authority. John, you know what I want answered; when can I get you on a landline for the interview? Bloke travels around quite a lot and cellphones sound tinny, so about a week of the 12th Henshaw said he'll be back at his desk in his cubicle at MDOT HQ. He promised.

Then I had to hurry because Dave Gelinas was there and I needed to talk Belfast-to-Bangor river corridor; reenergizing the Penobscot Riverside towns' access to river deliveries on non toxic cargoes. David urged me to contact the chambers of commerce for the river towns. A great idea and I'll do so.

Then it was almost time to go; the megadredge meeting was about to start. I went out and talked with lobsterman Richard Nelson about the other end of the bay, where the UMaine is leading a well conceived but awful-in-execution offshore floating wind turbine. Nelson's been keeping an eye on the offshore wind wannabees about as long as I have; but because his Way is of thoughtful inquiry and reflection, the Windies thought they could get him to stand up at an event and give a thumbs-up to their plan (keep in mind that the state standard is 10 miles offshore including 10 miles away from inhabited islands. That they choose less than 3 miles from an island with one of the most painted seascapes in America , a world class tourist destination and arts colony, shows a certain level of contempt for the irreplaceable scenic assets of an island that has little else but a seasonal lobster fishery.

Happily there are plenty of dissident lobstermen at the meeting , so no wool is going to get pulled over anyone's eyes. It just ended; I'll check in with my lobstering sources who attended in a short time. There will also be a teach-in by dredge opponents after the meeting - but I was disinvited - told I should "stay in the weeds" and not speak there. While Maine Sierra Club and other NGOs held forth!  Such is life.

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