FRIENDSHIP — I have been a lobster fisherman out of Friendship Harbor for well over 30 years. During that time I’ve seen firsthand the impacts of climate change to not only the Gulf of Maine, but also to our evolving fisheries, and to the coastal communities that depend upon them. I’ve done what I can to face those challenges, not only on the water by making adjustments in the way I fish, but also with altering aspects of running my business, and in trying my best to minimize personal environmental impacts.

The additional challenge of trying to communicate some of my observations and thoughts also occupies some of my time, and is done in the hope that I can elicit the help of others in government and the general public to do what they can as well. Even though lobstermen are noted for their independent nature, effecting change in climate and energy policy is not something one can tackle alone.

At times the science, coupled with the news, is overwhelming. The Gulf of Maine, long battling ocean warming, now also faces off with what some call climate change’s “ugly stepsister”: ocean acidification. The Gulf of Maine is, to make matters worse, uniquely susceptible to both. Acidic waters make it more difficult for shellfish to produce their shells, and makes lobsters more vulnerable to prey and have less energies for reproduction.

To add insult to injury, the Trump administration’s proposed budget would cut the the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s budget by 17 percent, and in doing so, cuts some of the very science and programs dealing with climate and acidification that are needed.

The Sea Grant program would also be eliminated as part of the cuts. Maine Sea Grant has supported many lobster research projects over the years, including funding to monitor newly settled lobsters, a program to predict future landing and resources to measure the impacts of warmer ocean temperatures on the fishery.

Additionally, in light of increasingly severe storms and unpredictable weather, lobstermen like myself look to the National Weather Service, also funded by NOAA, to know when it is safe and practical to be out on the water. The combination of changing ocean conditions and a decrease in resources to help understand those changes puts both the future of my livelihood and my personal safety in jeopardy.

Given this reality, speaking out about climate change has become not just a choice but imperative in nature, and towards that end, I am joining with other Mainers who will be speaking at the Maine People’s Climate March in Augusta on April 29 . Anyone reading this whose livelihood also depends on a stable climate or a clean environment – or who would just like to stand with us – is encouraged to attend as well.

Our elected officials who represent Maine in D.C. consider three major factors when making a decision about how to vote: how their peers are voting, what their conscience is telling them is right and the will of their constituents. We are the constituents, the Mainers who voted them into office, and our collective voice can influence how they vote. It already has, and thanks to constituent pressure, both Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King voted against Scott Pruitt for Environmental Protection Agency administrator.

By coming together at the People’s Climate March in Augusta, we will remind our elected officials that action on climate change is vital to the continued success of Maine’s economy, and that environmental conservation and protection is our heritage and a Maine value, not a partisan one.

To everyone who cares about the preservation of Maine’s fishing communities: March with us. To everyone who believes that Maine’s environment is a large part of Maine’s economy: March with us. To everyone who believes that action on climate change should be a nonpartisan issue: March with us. My voice alone can only do so much, but by standing with me, we can show our elected officials the will of the people of Maine and make a real difference. See you at the State House.