A sternman's thoughts on aquaculture

Are there any other industries in Maine that are allowed to grow with no set limits? Right now, aquaculture leasing is designed this way. There is no cap on the number of leases that the state can issue. The number of aquaculture applications has increased ten-fold over the last ten years, and the Department of Marine Resources has approved 99% of these marine applications. The current regulations will lead to the unsustainable growth of a new industry which is untested along our coast.

As a sternman in Martinsville, the people I fish alongside have strict limits. Lobstermen can't sell their licenses, and are only allowed to fish within their zones, with specified trap limits. The rules and regulations lobstermen abide by are aimed at sustaining a valuable industry. In-water aquaculture has no such limits. Those seeking aquaculture leases can lease up to 1,000 acres. The leases can be held for 20 years and can be transferred without a mandatory public hearing.

We are just at the beginning of the increase in approved leases and aquaculture farms being established on the water. Not all of those approved sites are on the water now, and there are plenty more in the pipeline. Essentially, what you see today is a sliver of what could easily exist in the next few years.

The current aquaculture leasing process gives a new industry an unfair advantage over those who already use the water for their livelihoods. Fishermen have to deal with restrictions on the number of licenses issued, catch limits, and area restrictions. Why should it be different for aquaculture leasing?

There is no prediction on how successful these operations will be. However, we do know that fisheries like the lobster fishery are major contributors to our local and state economy. Our coast could soon be full of hundreds of aquaculture leases, competing for physical space in the ocean with these traditional and valuable uses.

Fishermen have always shared Maine waters with other uses, moving gear from place to place to avoid conflicts and to find the best catch. The unchecked growth in the number of privately leased areas does not coincide with this shared use of a public resource. Unregulated aquaculture expansion threatens the ability of the thousands of fishermen who earn a living on the water. Less physical water to fish negatively impacts future earnings.

Aquaculture is new to our coast and Maine's rules aren’t ready to guide it in the right direction. It is up to our legislators to create better rules and regulations to establish a sustainable scale and pace of growth for this industry. For those who spend time on Maine's coast, it is our responsibility to ensure the State protects our public waters.

Kelsey Fenwick


Issues on the water: licenses, leasing, and aquaculture

As a fisherman, when you apply for a license, you are making a commitment. That license stays with you and stays with your boat. You can’t transfer it to anyone else or any other vessel. You invest your training and your equipment in that fishery, knowing that it is something you are going to be doing for the long-term in order to make it worthwhile. It also means that you are invested in the health of the resources that provide your livelihood. None of this is true for the aquaculture industry as it is currently set up.

Right now, an individual who holds an aquaculture lease in Maine can transfer it to anyone whenever they choose. That doesn’t have to be someone in the state of Maine or even in the United States. It also doesn’t have to be an individual and could just as easily be a company. That means a large foreign entity could own up to 1,000 acres of Maine water. While someone in Maine has a vested interest in the long-term health of the ecosystems and communities here, someone from out of state does not necessarily have the same values. This is a great concern.

The other problem with the transfer of leases is that it means that does not need to be a long-term commitment from the initial leaseholder. The option to transfer the lease gives the initial applicant an out if things don’t go as they’d planned or they’d like to change occupations. That means that their stewardship of the resource and the area of the lease, as well as their interactions with the community, are not bound by the same ties as someone who is in it for the long haul.

Our legislators need to step up and change the legislation so that we aren’t giving away our oceans to an unknown future and leaving it in the hands of people who aren’t part of our communities. It is up to us to voice these concerns to our legislators now so that they make these changes.

William Oliver

South Thomaston

Thanks for Friendship Christmas celebration

Friendship’s Annual tree lighting celebration and Christmas dinner was held Friday, Dec. 6 at the Hahn Community Center. Originally, the Women of Friendship Ambulance Auxiliary to the Fire Department held the annual potluck dinner/yankee swap until they dissolved in 2005. A volunteer committee was formed in March 2006 to host Friendship Day, Christmas Dinner, establish a scholarship fund, plan for Friendship’s 200th Birthday Celebration and many new community events. The new volunteer Committee established was Friendship Is Here and hosted numerous projects with their last 2016 event the full turkey/ham Christmas dinner buffet. When FISH dissolved, the Friendship Day and Christmas Dinner was transferred in 2017 under the Town of Friendship, with a couple of original members still participating for over 14 years.

Santa Claus arrived by Friendship’s fire truck for children’s photos along with Mrs. Claus. There was a hot chocolate stand and caroling directed by Eldon Downing and his wife. Donated Snoopy/Charlie Brown group cutouts were on display beside the Friendship Fire Department decorated tree.

Thank you to all the volunteers that started early with hall decoration, washing dishes, preparing the vegetables, baking, slicing, making gravy, serving and for all of the donations of food and door prizes.

The Blessing of the Christmas tree and our dinner was done by Rev. Bob Dorr outside the Hahn Center. The Committee would like to thank the residents of Friendship, Hahn Community Center, Friendship Fire Department, Waldoboro Hannaford, Flipper’s Market, Spear’s Farm, Hatchet Cove Farm, Friendship Trap Co., Wallace’s Market, Shelley’s Flowers, Maine Coast Rope Rugs, Friendship Salon, Friendship Designs and Rockland Hannaford for their support. Food was delivered to the Knox County Homeless Coalition/Hospitality House on Saturday morning.

Special door prizes were presented to recent Friendship’s newlyweds, longest married couple, newest baby and to numerous children and adults.

This Christmas dinner happens every year thanks to our teamwork of enthusiastic friends and businesses that supported Friendship and participated in celebrating the season. Thank you all!

Elizabeth-Ann Bartlett


Gratitude towards the Grandparents

My grandparents, who live in Jefferson, have always been a puzzle to solve for holiday gifts to give. Every time my brothers and I ask what they would like for Christmas, they always say "Not stuff. Just experiences, family, and food."

I've been giving them pastries for three years due to lack of creativity, but was always met with big smiles and warm hugs every time. This year–besides the chocolates I got them–I wanted to give them this personal gratitude letter here in this weekly Letters to the Editor edition for Christmas, along with a heartfelt message.

Phil and Joan Hall, if you know them, are dedicated, family-oriented people who enjoy every single phone call between their children and grandchildren. Love comes first to them, even with any obstacle that they always hurdle. Because of their inner light they give to everyone, their passion in their community and how I saw it reflected back, they opened my eyes at a very young age to develop the lifetime dream to move to Maine when I grew older. I can safely say that my stubborn Hall tenacity in my genetics helped it happen!

I want to thank them for all the help they've given me in achieving my dream, working in a career I've daydreamed about for a long time. They opened their home to me as I struggled to find an apartment, fed me until all the weight I lost from 'shwag' college food (don't ask) returned to my face.

Grampie and I may not always see eye to eye, especially during this political climate, but with this message of gratitude, I want to say that even as things are heightened and people may not always agree, we should never divide families with trivial matters. Our familial bond far outweighs the differences we have, and we find solace in sitting out on the Damariscotta docks, talking about nature hikes and memories of causing trouble in younger years. My moments of Grammie's warm hugs, proud smiles at good news and Grampie's contagious laughter and strong voice are one of many reasons I push aside what comments are made under columns online and focus on what really matters.

My gift to them this holiday season, besides this letter, is for them to know that they're stuck with me for good! All jokes aside, without them, I never would have realized my dream and spurned the need for freedom and to spread my wings to end up along the Down East coast, doing the things I love with the people I care about just a couple towns away.

I wish my grandparents a Merry Christmas, and to all who read this, I hope this reignites hope and warmth this holiday season. Instead of just a week of good tidings, let us come together in recognizing we all have a beating heart and a thrumming soul, both needing nourishment and love from those we care about.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Emma Testerman

Port Clyde