May 12, 2013

Letters to the editor: Mainers deserve fair eel quotas

Casual observers might have taken the April 30 public hearing in Augusta on the draft American eel fisheries management plan by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to be a referendum on government interference in a region's right to a state-specific resource.  

click image to enlarge

A harvester holds elvers in his hand while fishing in southern Maine in 2012. A reader calls on regulators to balance restrictions on the Maine glass eel harvest with limits on the harvest of yellow and silver eels elsewhere, to spread the burden “as democratically as possible.”

2012 File Photo/Gabe Souza

This outreach ("Maine fishermen resist eel harvest quotas," May 1) was actually conducted to collect stakeholder input on an entire suite of alternatives to sustain a fishery extending from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian provinces.  

The Maine elver harvest is taken directly from a single genetic stock that ends up in the local economies and cuisines of Carolinians, Cajuns and Canadians alike. The fisheries commission must ensure sustainability of all Atlantic coastal fishes of commercial value.

The burdens of that civil exercise will be borne by each of these commercial and recreational user groups. 

Worldwide declines of comparable commercial species amplify Asian markets, which drive the American glass eel fishery. 

Absent any quota limits in 2012, a spike in effort by Maine's glass eel harvesters elevated landings to 21,000 pounds. This is equivalent to removing roughly 60,000,000 glass eels from this single stock, translating to inestimable thousands of adults failing to return to spawn.

This newly invigorated glass eel market cannot serve as the new normal for future harvests. 

Stock depletion assessments are detested by those most impacted, and harvesters' rejection of the fisheries commission's is correlated with the inflated market value.  

Specific to Maine's interests, the fisheries commission's Plan Development Team should discount these exceptional 2012 landings in their basis.

Paying off mortgages, new trucks and college tuitions has generated a windfall mentality among a grateful fishing community, which can only lead to the inevitable population tipping point. 

The fisheries commission should adequately balance necessary glass eel harvest restrictions in Maine with harvest restrictions on yellow and silver adults throughout their geographic range to share the burden as democratically as possible to achieve a defensible strategy.  

Carl Solberg


Turbines not first project to affect 'quality of place'

A headline on a letter by Karen Bessey Pease (April 28) says that "wind turbines undermine land values, quality of place."

So do gravel pits, smokestacks and railroad tracks.

In fact, Maine railroad tracks take up a very large percentage of what would otherwise be beautiful and valuable Maine shoreline, both lake and ocean, making it useless for building on, as Rainer and Gaby Engle of Switzerland (the couple mentioned in Ms. Pease's letter) did.

Like the wind industry, these projects and organizations have provided needed benefit even though they affected Maine's tourist industry.

One positive here in Maine was the outlawing of billboards. Another was the bottle bill, for its effect on littering.

But your "quality of place" has been slowly disappearing ever since the 1850s, when the railroads came to Maine.

Eliot Chandler


Public pension fund should dump fossil fuel holdings

In L.D. 1461, An Act to Require the State to Divest Itself of Assets Invested in the Fossil Fuel Industry, Maine citizens are calling on the Maine Public Employees Retirement System to divest their holdings in coal, oil and gas companies.


Because we are experiencing  more respiratory problems, Lyme disease, warming and acidification of the ocean, new pests stressing our agriculture and forests and decreased winter snowfall, as well as damage to our coastline, roads and bridges from more extreme weather.  

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