FREEPORT

Freeport’s marine warden may have a new job description. The town council on Tuesday will discuss changing the warden’s role to that of Freeport marine conservation officer.

A three-page draft of the conservation officer’s job description delineates myriad duties, expectations and responsibilities.

In short, the officer would be responsible for activities in support of the town’s shellfish program. The officer would also be responsible for establishing a modern conservation program, including monitoring the local shellfish population, water testing and monitoring, and developing community outreach programs.

Speaking at a recent council meeting, commission member Eric Horne noted that the “needs of the shellfish program have evolved.”

Wardens are asked to do more in addition to their enforcement duties, includ- ing collecting water samples and making sure shellfish are safe for consumers.

The town’s commission had noted that clammers and other harvesters form an early warning system against broader ecological threats.

The proposed change comes at a time when local shellfish populations are under pressure from invasive species, global climate change and ocean acidification.

The proposal by the town’s shellfish commission was prompted by the upcoming retirement of the current warden, Tom Kay. Kay is expected to step down in February, according to Town Manager Peter Joseph.

Unlike most other town employees, the commissioner or warden will be hired by the council, not by the administration.

An earlier suggestion by Town Councilor Andrew Wellen to combine the roles of the warden with that of the harbor master has not gained any ground, and had not been widely discussed since by the commission, according to Joesph.

Joseph had previously noted that the harbor master and shellfish warden are separate jobs, and others on the council stated that it may be too much work to leave to one person.

Why now?

THE MARINE warden proposal by Freeport’s shellfish commission was prompted by the upcoming retirement of the current warden, Tom Kay. Kay is expected to step down in February, according to Town Manager Peter Joseph.



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