Good fisheries management demands good science. But the two state agencies responsible for management of inland and coastal fisheries are both starved for the funding necessary to perform good science.
I am most familiar with the inland fisheries, where the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife mostly manages anglers, not fish. And after the bruising legislative battle over a proposed saltwater fishing license, I know that the Department of Marine Resources is woefully short of resources to manage saltwater species.
Crappie and bass are starting to collect in shallow water in the Belgrade Lakes watershed, making for great shore fishing, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologist Scott Davis recently told reporter Deirdre Fleming of the Maine Sunday Telegram.
Both fish are illegally introduced species. And that makes the comments of Davis particularly interesting.
More interesting is this: Davis is trap netting walleye on Great Pond and Long Pond in the Belgrades – and killing them.
Maine’s leading environmental organizations have learned the art of compromise, and that’s the only way they could accomplish anything in the recently concluded legislative session.
With Maine’s economy still in the tank, and the state budget hundreds of millions of dollars short, the desire to enact new rules and regulations, or add any costs to either agency budgets or the cost of doing business, was slim to none, even amongst the most rabid environmental legislators.
Manly Hardy would not have understood what happened last week at the Maine legislature. A nineteenth-century businessman from Brewer, Hardy died in 1910 after spending much of his life hunting, trapping, fishing, exploring and observing nature in the North Woods.
Spring is like taking a beautiful heirloom quilt off the bed and finding a tattered blanket and stained sheet underneath.
When the beautiful blanket of white snow is off the land, the ugliness underneath can be shocking.
We were busy last winter fouling our nest, and one can only despair that Mother Nature will be able to put another pretty cover over our mess. Nature can only cover up so much and the ugly stains of our detritus will remain, sometimes visible, sometimes hidden beneath the bushes.
In late March Commissioner Dan Martin of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife made inaccurate and inflammatory charges against Senator David Trahan and me. Those charges were part of a response the Commissioner made to my DownEast blog of January 19, 2010.
A lobbyist’s job is sometimes like that of the guy who follows the elephants in a parade with a shovel. There is a lot of mess to clean up, particularly at the end of a legislative session.
One of the biggest messes was a new rule from the Department of Environmental Protection to require that natural stream flow be maintained when culverts are repaired or replaced.
If your time is limited, here’s the end of the story.
Thanks to an intensive month-long lobbying effort by the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine aided by a few key legislators, freshwater anglers will not have to purchase a new, separate saltwater fishing license.
The decisive vote came in the Maine Senate at 8:30 p.m. on March 25, after Democratic senators emerged from a caucus with an agreement to support a substantial amendment to the bill. The amendment also won the support of SAM.
The culvert bill is hung up at the legislature. Just as fish are blocked from moving upstream by tens of thousands of poorly installed culverts, the Department of Environmental Protection’s culvert rules appear unable to migrate through the legislative process.
Maine’s next governor will be challenged to wring more money out of our natural resources while protecting critical habitat and our traditional recreational opportunities. That’s one reason I was listening carefully when most of the major candidates showed up for a March 11 forum sponsored by the Natural Resources Network.