According to a recent report by the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, our New England fishing fleet is consolidating in one direction: away from the small-scale fishery and toward the large-scale industrialized fishery.

Consolidation does not reduce the amount of fish caught, but will change the face of who does the fishing. At present, little to no protections exist that ensure who fishes will remain diverse — nor are there any measures to prevent monopolization of limited rights to fish.

The fishermen of New England have much in common with our small family farmers. However, voices reaching from the sea sometimes sound more distant than those of land-based neighboring farmers.

Recent changes occurring in the Northeast fishery have brought about a dramatic transition in who is participating in the fishery. The issues are not simple, but as conscientious community members we can begin by listening to, and supporting, the voices of family fishermen who are watching their livelihoods disappear.

Currently in New England three corporate entities control nearly 40 percent of one fish stock.

Those of us concerned with the security of our food systems fear uncontrolled consolidation in the fishing industry — the result of which will include the degradation of our resources, and the loss of the independent small-boat fishermen. The loss of these boats will have a domino effect on shore-side businesses.

Decisions made by the New England Fishery Management Council impact not only fishermen but also those who live, work, and eat in communities everywhere. We must raise our voices in support of the small-scale family fishermen and ask the NEFMC to ensure that protections exist to foster a diverse fishery.

Ultimately, maintaining a diverse fleet is one of NEFMC’s own objectives. To learn more, visit www.namanet.org and see the report titled “Maintain Fleet Diversity in the New England Groundfish Fishery.”

Monique A. Coombs

Lobsters on the Fly

Orr’s Island

Readers paying attention to Sens. Collins, Snowe

Sen. Susan Collins doesn’t like the executive branch proposing that businesses, their officers and directors, bidding for governmental contracts, have to disclose their political campaign expenditures.

She asserts that this requirement will infringe on their First Amendment right, now that the “bribery” and “extortion” of elected officials, as Sen. John McCain once described it, via campaign financing has been qualified as a form of “free speech” by our Supreme Court.

This regulation will, in effect, discourage businesses and their executives from competitive bidding if they have to disclose how they distribute their contributions to support legislation favorable to their interests.

What Collins neglects to mention in her May 23 commentary is that this “speech” is what likely led to the proposal in the first place.

We can agree with Collins that “whether a contractor agrees or disagrees with the political views of an administration should be irrelevant to the (bidding) process.”

What is relevant is the conflict of interest for the persons with the authority to award these contracts. This conflict of interest does not seem to occur to Collins and other elected office holders who don’t think that the free speech in the form of money that they are awash with does not influence their judgment.

It’s not the prospective contractors who need to worry about the scrutiny given to their past campaign contributions. It is elected officials like Collins who need to be concerned about the transparent impropriety of their actions when awarding contracts to their captains and chiefs who fuel their campaign money machines.

Many such contracts between our federal government and private business have led to much harm being done at great cost — and sometimes fatal cost — to our people and tragically, to other people internationally.

Stephen R. Small

Portland

A May 23 letter unfairly targeted Sen. Olympia Snowe for her strong and principled defense of small business in light of the crushing blow of federal regulations.

This attack letter was both disingenuous and purely political, and completely ignored Sen. Snowe’s meaningful actions to promote small business and job creation while simultaneously protecting the health and safety of our nation’s workers.

Our company, Arundel Machine Tool, has strived to create a safe workplace for our employees. Since our facility utilizes large machinery, we are well aware of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s noise control rule.

The proposed change to this rule would have required countless businesses to install costly new equipment at a time when they can least afford it.

The facts speak for themselves. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, under the current noise rule, incidences of hearing loss injuries have declined from 3.2 per 1,000 employees to 2.2 between 2004 and 2009. Furthermore, OSHA rescinded its proposed changes to the noise rule earlier this year, recognizing that “addressing this problem requires much more public outreach and many more resources than we had originally anticipated.”

The evidence shows the current rule is working. While we respect OSHA’s desire to continually improve workplace safety, the decision to pull its reinterpretation because it did not adequately reach out to small businesses, which would bear the brunt of these changes, is telling.

If OSHA had discussed its desired changes with small business stakeholders before proposing this flawed rule, we could have worked collaboratively to address its shortcomings.

That is why we commend Sen. Snowe for working to ensure that small businesses have a voice in the federal rulemaking process, so we can achieve common-sense regulations that protect America’s hard-working individuals without burdening small businesses with unnecessary red tape.

Patrick Shrader

Vice President, Arundel Machine

Arundel

Mainers will be pleased to learn that recently, both of our U.S. senators joined a bipartisan majority to repeal $21 billion in taxpayer subsidies to the most profitable oil companies.

These billions were targeted to pay down the federal deficit. The bill failed to get the necessary 60 votes, but by voting to repeal these corporate handouts, Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins stood with Maine working families who are feeling pain at the gas pump and on tax day.

We also commend Sen. Snowe for voting against an irresponsible proposal to expand offshore oil and gas drilling that would put our fisheries and a whole way of life at risk.

As Maine families struggle with high gas prices, now is the time to stop subsidizing Big Oil and to take action to reduce our dangerous and expensive dependence on oil.

Maureen Drouin

Executive Director

Maine League of Conservation Voters

Augusta