Last Thursday night, I attended a roundtable at the University of Southern Maine on the disastrous impact of federal budget cuts on Maine fisheries.

Articulate, hardworking folks from Maine Sea Grant, the Maine Lobstermen’s Association and the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, among others, spoke and answered questions from the crowd. Staff people from our senators’ offices were there and relayed detailed information concerning the harm that the drastic cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration proposed by the Trump administration would have on Maine’s marine environment and economy.

The proposed cuts would eliminate the monitoring and research capacities necessary for our coastal towns and fisheries to adapt to the radical changes likely to occur from ocean acidification and warming and to prevent the nutrient loading that results in fish kills.

The Maine fishery is now a monoculture, dependent on a single species, the lobster, which are moving north as temperatures warm. The state of Maine doesn’t pay for lobster research. The money comes from Maine Sea Grant. Federal cuts also eliminate the grants that help small businesses experiment with aquaculture and communities diversify.

It’s outrageous that the Trump administration focuses narrowly on jobs in the coal industry when the jobs in our fisheries are at risk because of climate change fueled by coal and fossil fuels. I thank Sen. Susan Collins and Sen. Angus King for all that they are doing to educate their colleagues concerning the jobs and coastal communities at risk in Maine.

As Curtis Bohlen from the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership said at the USM roundtable, “When the bay turns green, it doesn’t matter if you’re red or blue – you need to be able to fix it.”

Nancy Anderson

Cumberland