April 4, 2013

Officials shaping solution on Maine elver standoff

By Steve Mistler smistler@pressherald.com
State House Bureau

(Continued from page 1)

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Newell Lewey, member of the Passamaquoddy tribal council, speaks with reporters on Wednesday April 3, 2013 in the Cross State Office Building in Augusta.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

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Marine Resources Committee co-chair Rep. Walter Kumiega, D- Deer Isle, speaks during a work session on Wednesday April 3, 2013 in the Cross State Office Building in Augusta.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

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The release referred to several historic treaties, dating as far back as 1727, and said nothing in those treaties abrogated the tribe's traditional hunting and fishing rights.

"We can work on the (management) plan, we welcome collaboration, but we do not ask for permission, and we cannot accept oversight," the release said. "We will always be Passamaquoddy. We will always fish. This is inalienable."

The LePage administration has disputed Lewey's characterization of Monday's conference call, but Lewey declined to revisit that topic, saying instead that Wednesday's discussions had been productive.

"I think we made a lot of headway today," he said.

Additionally, Fred Moore III, the fisheries committee coordinator for the tribe, told lawmakers on the Marine Resources Committee that Passamaquoddies support an emergency bill to increase penalties for violating elver regulations.

The bill, referred to the committee Feb. 21, was submitted at Keliher's request. Lewey told the Portland Press Herald on Tuesday that the bill is designed to single out the tribe for punishment.

But Keliher told the committee that the bill isn't a result of the Passamaquoddy dispute. He said it was prompted by issues the state had identified previously.

The bill, L.D. 632, would set a mandatory $2,000 penalty for violating state rules governing the harvest of elvers. It also would make violating those rules a criminal offense that could result in one year in jail.

Violating elver regulations is now a civil offense with fines of as much as $2,000.

In a letter to the committee dated March 27, Keliher wrote that courts that were unfamiliar with the fragility of the fishery had assessed penalties as low $200.

The bill is expected to get additional review by the Criminal Justice Committee.

Steve Mistler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at:


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Additional Photos

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Fred Moore III, the Fisheries Committee coordinator for the Passamaquoddy tribe speaks with reporters in a hallway on Wednesday April 3, 2013 in the Cross State Office Building in Augusta.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan


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