Value of city’s fishing catch drops to 56th in the nation

New Bedford, Mass., is once again the nation’s top commercial fishing port, while the value of the catch continues to fall in Portland.

The National Marine Fisheries Service has released its annual report detailing the nation’s fishing catch for 2009.

New Bedford was tops in value of its catch, largely due to sea scallops, bringing in $249.2 million. Dutch Harbor-Unalaska, Alaska, was tops in terms of poundage, with 506.3 million pounds.

In Maine, the value of the seafood brought to Portland dropped to $16.6 million, down from $22.6 million in 2008. The report says Stonington was Maine’s top fishing port, at $26.5 million.

Portland was the No. 56 fishing port by value in 2009, down from 36th a year earlier. The port routinely ranked among the Top 10 in the 1990s.

Second Restaurant Week planned for late October

If you missed this year’s Restaurant Week in March, you’ll get a second chance in October.

A second Restaurant Week is planned for Oct. 24-31, the week after the Harvest on the Harbor food festival.

The formula will be the same, with restaurants offering three-course meals priced at $20, $30 or $40. But this time, menus will be searchable by categories such as vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free.

Restaurants will be able to edit their own menus on the Restaurant Week Web site, www.maine restaurantweek.com. A mobile option will be added soon so diners can look up participating restaurants from their mobile phones.

Restaurant Week is not moving permanently to October. The event will return March 1-12.

Anti-alcohol groups win grant to continue work

A coalition of groups working to reduce alcohol abuse by teenagers in Portland has been awarded a federal grant to continue its work for another five years.

The coalition 21 Reasons received the $125,000 per year Drug Free Communities grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The five-year grant is the group’s second. The group used its original grant — awarded five years ago at $100,000 per year — to establish itself as an advocate for parental monitoring and work to limit access to alcohol through stepped-up police enforcement and cracking down on businesses that sell to minors.

“Student survey data shows that while youth substance abuse has gone down, alcohol still remains the most commonly accessed and abused substance by youth,” said Joanna Morrissey, the Drug Free Communities project manager.

The group also received a two-year grant of $75,000 per year to help support a new substance abuse coalition in the Gray-New Gloucester area.

Another advocacy group started two years ago in the northern suburbs, Create Awareness Now to Reduce Youth Substance Abuse, also was awarded $125,000 per year for five years to continue its programming. The group serves Falmouth, Yarmouth, Freeport, Pownal and North Yarmouth.

For more information, go to www.21reasons.org or www.cascobaycan.org.


Immigration officials join probe of truck carrying cash

Immigration officials have been called in to assist Maine officials who found about $1.5 million in a truck during a routine roadside safety check.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is investigating the Maine Turnpike case as a possible incident of cash smuggling. The agency has taken a lead role in combating bulk cash smuggling on the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada.

Officials said the episode unfolded with the discovery of a falsified driver’s log during the routine truck inspection Friday. The driver, Jhon Rivera-Ramirez, 35, was arrested for the logbook violation.


Kennebunkport, Bangor schools win ‘Blue Ribbon’

Two Maine schools are among 304 that U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan recognized Thursday as 2010 National Blue Ribbon Schools.

Kennebunkport Consolidated School was honored in the category that recognizes each state’s highest performing schools. The James F. Doughty School in Bangor was honored in the category of improving schools where at least 40 percent of students are disadvantaged and performance on annual assessment tests has improved to high levels.

The schools — 254 public and 50 private — will be honored at an awards ceremony Nov. 15-16 in Washington, D.C. In the past 28 years, more than 6,000 of America’s schools have received the award.

“Our nation has a responsibility to help all children realize their full potential,” Duncan said. “Schools honored with the Blue Ribbon Schools award are committed to achievement and to ensuring that students learn and succeed. Their work reflects the conviction that every child has promise and must receive a quality education.”

A total of 413 schools nationwide can be nominated each year, based on the number of K-12 students and the number of schools in each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Portland company awarded money for tidal technology

The U.S. Department of Energy will award the Portland-based Ocean Renewable Power Co. as much as $10 million in matching funds to advance its tidal energy technology on a commercial scale at its project site in Cobscook Bay.

The company will receive an initial $2.7 million this year for the three-year project.

Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree announced the award on Thursday. Snowe said in a press release that the money will make Maine a leader in the innovative renewable-energy industry.

“Ocean energy represents a phenomenal opportunity for our state and this funding for tidal energy development will ensure we remain in the vanguard of producing these advanced technologies,” Snowe said in a prepared statement. “This truly is a tremendous day for the economy of the Eastport-Lubec region and for Maine’s renewable energy future.”


New Cianbro contract could create more than 100 jobs

Cianbro Corp. says it has won a contract to build modules for a Brazilian firm, which may create more than 100 jobs.

Cianbro Chairman Peter Vigue made the announcement Wednesday. Vigue said the company has been hired to construct 22 building modules at its Brewer facility for the Vale company of Brazil, which has a nickel-processing facility in Newfoundland, The Bangor Daily News reported.

The modules, which will house electrical components, will be three stories high and weigh up to 600 tons each. They will be loaded onto barges in Brewer and shipped to Newfoundland.

The module job will require engineers, electricians and other construction workers.


Maine warned of faulty shipments of propane

An Illinois-based gas distributor is warning officials in Maine and 11 other states that some propane deliveries may have lacked enough of an odorant needed to alert homeowners of possible leaks.

Aux Sable Liquid Products said in a letter to public safety officials obtained by The Associated Press that the odorant is typically added at the Morris, Ill., facility, but some shipments may have lacked sufficient amounts. A company spokesman confirmed the letter today.

The company said the propane could have been shipped to more than a dozen states including Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Maryland, Virginia and Vermont.

The company said it has ceased shipments from the facility while it investigates.


Habitat for threatened lynx includes parts of Maine

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was correct in designating a vast area scattered over six states as critical habitat for the threatened Canada lynx, a judge ruled Thursday.

The designated habitat totals 39,000 square miles, an area the size of Indiana that includes parts of northern Idaho, Maine, Minnesota and Washington and swaths of western Montana and western Wyoming.

The Fish and Wildlife Service designated the habitat last year, prompting a lawsuit from snowmobile enthusiast groups in Wyoming and Washington state. The groups worry the designation could close off areas to snowmobiling and harm snowmobile-related businesses.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal upheld most of the designation after hearing oral arguments in the case. Her lone exception was certain national forest land in the North Cascades in northern Washington state, where Freudenthal said Fish and Wildlife didn’t adequately consider the economic effects of designating the habitat.

The designated habitat covers more than 20 times more area than what Fish and Wildlife designated as critical habitat for the Canada lynx in 2006. Fish and Wildlife revised that habitat designation after it became known that a deputy assistant Interior secretary, Julie MacDonald, improperly influenced findings for lynx and other species.