Jan 5, 2015

This Week: Penobscot Bay/Maine Coast Needs YOU. Tues eve Brewer. Wed eve Belfast

Important things are coming up this week, Maine saltwater fish habitat-wise. Penobscot Bay and all of the Gulf of Maine could benefit by your presence - actual and/or virtual! Your choice!   
In reverse order:
January 7th.  FOPB's monthly meeting Belfast Library 6-7:30.  Briefing by Maine Ocean Acidification Commission leader Mick Devin, state legislator from Newcastle, on the recommendations of that commission, followed by Fundy Baykeeper Matthew Abbott from New Brunswick, Canada on the Canadian Keeper experience and on organizing a Penobscot Baykeeper program. Plus a GAC Chemical update.

* January 6th  New federal rules to protect habitat of inshore juvenile cod. Brewer,  6:00 - 8:00PM
Location Jeff's Catering and Event Center, 15 Littlefield Road,Brewer, ME 207.989.1811 
WHAT.  Public hearing on new federal fish habitat protections for all of New England's coastal and offshore fishes. See map of proposed and existing habitat protection areas  (Orange and Green sites are the new ones)

Of particular interest for Penobscot Bay protectors is the Inshore Juvenile Atlantic Cod Habitat Area of Particular Concern (4 page excerpt from above document. pdf) This "HAPC" will include the entire New England coast running parallel to the shore in a shallow ribbon from the low tide line to either the 10 meter (32 foot) or 20 meter (65 foot) depth contourDescription of this habitat area- both alternatives   See also  NOAA report "Impacts to Marine Fisheries Habitat from Nonfishing Activities in the Northeastern United States"

What to tell the New England Fishery Management Council at the meeting
1.  Our coastal cod's inshore young need specific types of shallow three dimensional habitat to survive their first year.
2. Their prey species also have specific habitat needs.
3. There are both fishery based impacts and land based impacts to these habitats.
4. Fishery management can and has been reducing gear impacts to juvenile cod habitat.  
5. Land-based impacts to inshore juvenile cod habitat have multiple sources, and occur at different intensities at different seasons and locations.
6. While the Council prefers the 20 meter contour as the outer edge of the HAPC, we believe going out to the 10 meter contour will provide sufficient protections for Age Zero cod and be more easy for non fishing citizens to understand and be involved in. One possible alternative is for landbased impact reviews to go out to the 10 meter contour, while fishery impacts to this HAPC to go out to the 20 meter contour. 

WHAT TO DO. Tell the officials at the meeting: Maine will need to prepare.  
For this Inshore Juvenile Atlantic Cod Habitat Area of Particular Concern to be a useful part of the fish habitat protection toolbox, the habitat has to be profiled and state environmental agencies must be trained in how to include consideration of this HAPC in their reviews of coastal discharger licenses, dredging plans and coastal development applications. Friends of Penobscot Bay supports this HAPC and makes the following recommendations.

* Map and evaluate the existing habitat quality within their Inshore Juvenile Cod HAPC areas.  FOPB will be doing this by towing video cameras along the 10 meter contours of Penobscot Bay to get baseline documentation along the centerline of this HAPC.
* Locate & rate the intensity of known and likely future land-based impacts to this HAPC. 
* Provide training to state environmental agency staff, who will be tasked to refer Inshore Juvenile Cod HAPC concerns to federal officials.
* Provide training materials for coastal municipal planning boards to help them understand the Juvenile Cod Habitat Area of Particular Concern within their towns' waters.

GAC CHEMICAL - The VRAP plan means that the company will finally embark on ending the erosion of its wastes into Stockton harbor.     See map of remediation site.  and thenThey will remove sulfur buried next to the shore  trim back and stabilize the eroding shoreline immediately below the old acid pile.  This is only a first step. FOPB will have to guide them along the way to continue this remediation along the rest of their shore.But let's give them an award for doing SOMETHING!

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