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

Waldoboro

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

Hampden

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.

Why?  

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.  

All of this is because of the rise in global temperature brought on by increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.  

World governments have agreed that a rise of 2 degrees Celsius in average global temperature is all we can afford if we hope to avoid severe climate disruption.  

A rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius is already inevitable.  

The future of our children and grandchildren is at stake.  

We have the know-how to address this threat.  

Mainers are moving toward clean, renewable energy -- solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, tidal.  

We need to invest in our state and our workers to create a green economy.

However, the fossil fuel industry has a stranglehold on our government. It spends millions on elections, lobbying and climate change denial.  

Coal, oil and gas companies are bent on extracting all reserves, despite the fact that they contain five times more CO2 than we can afford to emit.  

Meanwhile, financial experts from the International Monetary Fund to Standard & Poor's are warning of a "carbon bubble": an inevitable drop in the value of fossil fuel stocks that will result when more emission controls are initiated.

It would be irresponsible to continue to entrust the retirement funds of our public employees to the fossil fuel industry.  

We call on all concerned citizens to support L.D. 1461.

Karen Marysdaughter

Monroe

Motorists and motorcyclists both have role in road safety

In recognition of May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, I'd like to encourage motorists and motorcyclists alike to commit to "sharing the road" during the month, and all year long, in a collective effort to reduce motorcycle deaths and injuries across our state.

Safety is a mutual responsibility for motorists and motorcyclists alike.

Motorcyclists are about 30 times more likely to die in a crash than passenger vehicle occupants.

Drivers should always be on the lookout for motorcyclists.

Drivers must be aware that a motorcycle, as one of the smallest of vehicles on the road, can be "hiding" in your vehicle's blind spots.  

Always check blind spots, use mirrors and signal before changing lanes or making turns.

Motorcyclists have responsibilities, too.

Riders should obey all traffic laws and be properly licensed.

Like their motorist counterparts, motorcyclists should never ride while impaired or distracted.

Motorists and motorcyclists have a common responsibility to share the road together in a safe, courteous and conscientious manner.

Drivers must be fully focused and alert to the road and in control of their vehicles at all times.  

Together, motorists and motorcyclists can work to keep each other and our roads safe for everyone, not only in May, but all year long.  

Ride safe,

Jeffrey Flye

United Bikers of Maine

Winslow

LePage wants all in Maine to fund tax cut for the rich

Our governor and Legislature have come up with some more voodoo economics.

Now let me get this straight. Last year, the governor requested and the Legislature passed a tax cut mainly for the rich, which cost $100 million. Most of us voters thought they had a way to pay for it.

We now know they had no idea where the money would come from. Now they want to push the problem onto the towns and cities (which are already operating on bare-bones budgets), causing them to raise property taxes.

The governor and Legislature must think we are all fools. As I always say, "Stupid is as stupid does." The time has come to kick these career politicians where it hurts -- right out of office.

David H. Crockett

Augusta

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