Aug 2, 2015

Maine Lobster Festival: FOPB was there!

Rockland. Huge crowds  daily filled the living heart of the Maine Lobster Festival - the Marine Experience Tent during the July 29 to August 2, 2015 event.

The Friends of Penobscot Bay had several duties at the Festival, being educators at the baylife touchtank  There, living wild residents of Rockport Harbor and Owls Head Harbor greeted curious humanity.

Cradled in careful hands, lobsters waggled antennas, scallops squirted, urchins prickled,  a horseshoe crab used its spiketail repeatedly in a sort of tumbling acrobatics, hermit crabs kept peeping from their borrowed periwinkle and whelk shells. Sponges bobbed about, like misshapen small potatoes, 

 Rockweed was a comfortably thick floating layer topping the touch tanks' surfaces, whence lobsters could get out of sight of the thousands of Marine tent visitors. 

Of course, only a few dozen yards away, lobster cookers were busily sending their cousins off to their next lives and preparing their bodies to feed the human masses filling the nearby food tent, 

"People who care about Maine's biggest bay." That's the motto of Friends of Penobscot Bay, and that's who  joined me at FOPB's table in the Marine Experience Tent over the five days of the 68th annual Maine Lobster Festival:

 Sandra Schramm, Sally Jones, Larry Litchfield, Debby Atwell, Sheila Dassatt.
There for the bay. Thank you!

How it went: thousands of festival goers drifted table to table throughout the marine tent. They passed both sides of our display table, many lingering over the eye catching maps, bay charts and aerial photo posters (thanks David!).  

Whereupon these Bay Friends held forth singly or en masse, telling of the the pollution past present and future of Penobscot Bay.and of What Needs Doing.

We  spoke of the 21st century threat of mega-dredging Searsport Harbor's mercurious substrates and dumping it at the head of the drowned river canyon that lies between Turtle Head & Northport. 

Releasing these spoils - the Corps of Engineers acknowledges ruefully - into killing mushroom mudclouds well beyond maintenance needs. 

On behalf of - what else? Big Oil. 

How Big Oil's top Maine lobbyist - doing a revolving door stint as Maine Commissioner of Environmental Protection - was skillfully ramrodding the project through.  

There were GAC Chemical's 19th and 20th century industrial wastes, staining and burning Stockton Harbor from on highOf our hopes that the company will finally dig out its worst wastes next to the abandoned sulfur pile. This year!
There were google earth posters showing the  airshed adjoining  a proposed gas gobbling power plant in Rockland Maine, and the proximity of the burner's exhaust stack to the city's little league field, elementary and middle schools.  To sprout gas feeder lines to stimulate sprawl along west Penobscot Bay's thickly forested lobster coast, between Rockland  and Belfast appears to be a long term goal of the would be suburbanizers and urbanizers. 

That such would slowly but irreparably degrade lobster habitat and water quality does not appear to merit their attention.  But it does  get our attention!

Around Sandra, Debby, Larry, Sally, Sheila  & I, the visitors swirled, closing up in ranks 4 and five deep nearby as they awaited their turn to meet the wild maine sea life that was holding court in the two elevated shallow salt pools at the southeast end of the tent.  

Or watching two Brooks trapmill men put lobster traps together.
A nautical knot-master at work. (He told me the secret of the Gordian Knot, but I'm forbidden to pass it on.) It was loud..I mean LOUD in the Marine Experience Tent! One had to shout, or at least project well, to be heard by the person next to you. 

Along with local nautically flavored authors and artists displaying their wares in the tent, I interviewed Sheila Dassatt, executive director of Down East Lobstermen's Association on how the Maine lobster industry fared under the legislature.  Her recorded voice may be only barely louder than  the crowd-roar filling the tent. We'll see

Again, thanks Sally, Sandra, Larry and Debby and Sheila for helping enlighten the People as to the challenges Maine's biggest bay has faced, is facing and will face.

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