Fishermen's Forum vital for Maine

By The Courier-Gazette Editorial Board | Mar 07, 2014

The Samoset Resort in Rockport was packed to the gills Saturday, so to speak, for the annual Maine Fishermen's Forum.

The event is now in its 39th year. As usual, the forum included interesting guest speakers, a chance for fishermen to get together and talk shop, and a showcase of vendors and businesses working within the industry. It was the place to hear a talk on invasive green crabs, or to check out the latest fishing vessel engines, lobster traps and hi-tech navigational equipment.

For our area, however, this is more than just another industry's business conference and showcase.

The Maine Fishermen's Forum is a vital event that enables important connections in a community of fishermen who face tremendous challenges. The industry is heavily regulated by state, federal and out-of-state organizations. For fishermen, understanding and responding to ever-changing regulations can be like navigating between hidden rocks in dark waters.

The forum puts groups of fishermen in the same room with regulators form the Maine Department of Marine Resources, members of the Maine Legislature and even the governor. The fishermen have a chance to speak their minds, and they do, providing important feedback on how decisions made in Washington and Augusta affect them on a daily basis.

Beyond regulation are the environmental issues facing a vulnerable industry. There is growing concern over ocean acidification linked to climate change, and fishermen are seeing first-hand the affect that can have on lobster growth and development. The invasion of green crabs and the dredging proposed in Searsport with plans to dump materials in Penobscot Bay can be added to the list of concerns.

The forum also provides an opportunity to educate the general public about the work the fishermen are doing and the challenges they face. Reporters from a number of newspapers and media outlets sat in on the talks, bringing greater awareness to their readership.

We hope the forum will continue to enjoy strong support and participation for years to come.


Independent investigation warranted

The murder of Maine State Prison inmate Micah Boland Feb. 28 is only the most recent report of violence against an inmate.

The prison exists to house some of the most dangerous individuals in our society. Even so, those who run the prison are responsible for ensuring the safety of their charges.

This incident, given its extremely violent nature, warrants an investigation by an independent entity into how the prison is functioning and whether it has in place the appropriate safeguards.


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