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The Coastal Packet

The longtime national journal, Progressive Review, has moved its headquarters from Washington DC to Freeport, Maine, where its editor, Sam Smith, has long ties. This is a local edition dealing with Maine news and progressive politics.

8/9/09

Sunday, Aug 9

LOBSTER RAP

Nova News, CA -
Over the past decade one factor that has helped the New England summer lobster fishery is that Canadian processors have bought up a lot of the soft-shelled inventory helping to prevent a glutted market. This year, while the processors are buying, they're only willing to pay $2.50 to $2.85 a pound . . . which is a price too low for fishermen to make profit. The Atlantic Canada lobster fishery has also been hard hit over the past year with depressed marketing conditions. More than $75 million has been earmarked by the federal and provincial governments to assist the industry, including $15 million in immediate, short-term support to help compensate lobster-dependent harvesters for a portion of lost income resulting from the decline in the value of lobster landings.

Tom Bell, Press Herald - The lobster catch this summer appears normal. But hard-pressed consumers view lobsters as a luxury they can do without. "What are you going to buy when you go to the store? Toothpaste and toilet paper," he said. "At the bottom of the list is lobster." The boat price for lobster hasn't been this low since right around 1990 – and lobstermen's costs have risen considerably, said Bill Adler, executive director of the Massachusetts Lobstermen's Association, which tracks lobster prices in the region. . . In addition, the rainy summer in Maine has hurt tourism so much that there's less demand for live lobster from restaurants, said Pete McAleney, a Portland lobster wholesaler. Maine fishing communities have become heavily dependent on lobster, which in 2007 accounted for 77 percent of the value of all fish landings in Maine. . . The groundfish industry in Maine has largely vanished, accounting for only 3 percent of landings. . . Steve Hixon, sales manager at Rockland Ford in Thomaston, ran a promotion in 2004 offering fishermen a $500 voucher at the Brooks trap company when they bought a truck. He sold 38 trucks to fishermen the first year. By 2007, sales had dropped to eight. In 2008 and 2009, sales were so dismal that he dropped the promotion. . . Ed Kolmosky, owner of Fuller Oldsmobile Cadillac GMC Trucks Jeep Inc. in Rockland, said sales to fishermen are down 60 percent from three years ago.

Maine Public Broadcasting News - [Owl's Head lobsterman] Donald "Jib" McMahan, speculated as to why he his boat had been sunk. "Because I spoke up four years ago, I'm in trouble." McMahan wouldn't offer much more detail than that, saying only that he's was not involved in the alleged cutting of trap lines in recent days. "There was a lot of bouys floating yesterday I heard. Wasn't me. I was out of state for three days. I just left. I knew something would happen. Those guys only pick on kids and cripples." McMahan, 52, says he's suffered several strokes in recent years, and only recently returned to lobstering after serveral years of recovery. . . Nickles, who is also a diver, helped McMahan investigate the damage and refloat the submerged boat. He says it appears that vandals allowed seawater into the boats owned by Richard McMahan and Keith Simmons, both relatives of Jib McMahan. "They cut the seacock on his boat and cut the deck hose off. So they can't drain out that

Trevor Maxwell, Press Herald - [Matinicus] lobstermen also see an opportunity in the spotlight. The incident of July 20 has galvanized their demand for a change they say is long overdue. They want the state to designate a fishing zone reserved for the people who live on the island, similar to the one enforced around Monhegan, with clear rules about which lobstermen have the right to set traps. They contend that a Matinicus zone is the best way to reduce conflict and to sustain the year-round population, which has hovered around 50 for the past decade. . . Under the unwritten rules that have governed conduct by generations of fishermen, a man who marries into an island family earns fishing rights.

Miami Herald FL - Keys fishermen are gloomy about their prospects: Low demand during the recession has led to plummeting prices for what many consider a luxury treat. . . Peter Bacle, owner of the Stock Island Lobster Co., said he can't recall prices starting this low since about 1990. But back then, operation costs were much lower for fuel, labor, wood, concrete and boat maintenance. . . Tom Hill of the family-owned Key Largo Fisheries said: "This is a worldwide issue, not just a South Florida problem. We have exported a lot of product in the past. But right now with the economy, we are seeing a hesitancy to buy.''

THE MAINE STREAM

Maine Outdoor Journal -
Starting April 1, freshwater fishing as we know it in Maine will change when the department releases a new fishing-regulation book covering two years, instead of one – and most waters in southern and eastern Maine become legal for year-round fishing. . . Says Maine's director of fisheries operations John Boland: "The public acceptance is very high. Last year, we did some rule-making to help us pave the way for seasons with (both) open-water fishing and ice fishing." . . . What this means in southern and eastern Maine, in most cases, is fish a body of water any way you can. . . What we're saying is if there is safe ice in December, go fish. If it's a warm January with no ice, why not be able to go fishing?" said regional biologist Robert Van-Riper in central Maine.

Scott Thistle, Sun Journal - A Sun Journal analysis of e-mail messages shows some Lewiston city councilors having difficulty separating their public roles from their personal and business interests. The messages show these councilors try to interject themselves into the day-to-day operations of the city in ways which at least one government expert calls "council-manic interference," which can negatively affect city staff performance and erode public trust.

An email from a councillor who works for the company in question - "Is there any rehab money or anything we would be eligible for in terms of downtown rehab that the city is aware of? We're looking at a total project of $25K - $50K.". . .

Seth Koenig, Brunswick Times Record -
In the winter, volunteers in Arrowsic must be vigilant about scraping down any snow or ice buildup in front of the fire barn's garage doors. Even the slightest hump could bounce the town's fire truck into the low ceiling above. "When I took over as the chief, they didn't even have a light bar on the truck because it was so much of a concern,"� explained Arrowsic Fire Chief Chris Cummings. With the lights now installed on the roof of the truck's cab, he added, there's just a few inches of clearance driving in and out through the garage door. With the mini pumper truck in the other of the barn's two bays, the vehicle's side storage compartments can't be fully opened inside the station - the wall is so close that the compartment doors can only be opened about halfway. The nearly 80-year-old structure has no running water, and sheets of plastic cover the windows. Cummings estimates that, when it comes time in the near future to replace the town's two-decade-old vehicles, they'll have to spend an additional $20,000 each to find trucks small enough to squeeze into the station.


The Waldo Village Soup has a great follow-up on the moose that wandered into a mill including photos of the rescue operation: At about 11:30 a.m. Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologists Jim Connolly and Keel Kemper of Sidney arrived at the Knox Mill to tranquilize the moose. They used a "jab stick," which contained a dose of the tranquilizing drug, to inject the animal. After waiting about an hour, the biologists had to inject the moose a second time. Kemper said that if a moose is pumped full of adrenaline, the tranquilizer will not take effect. He also said they gave the animal the textbook amount at first, rather than inject it with too much in the beginning. Kim Lincoln After the moose was tranquilized, a group used a tarp to drag it out of the utility corridor at the Knox Mill. . . He said everyone in Camden did exactly what they should and that was to get the moose into a confined spot and leave it alone until biologists could get to the scene.

Beth Brogan, Brunswick Times Record - Two years before Brunswick Naval Air Station is scheduled to cease operation as a military facility, more than half of the 231 units in the McKeen Street base housing complex are empty. Town officials - including police and other emergency services - are now forced to grapple with managing a drastically changing community. . . Balfour Beatty, which acquired a 50-year lease to manage the residential properties from GMH Housing in 2008, hoped marketing attempts aimed at leasing the units to retired military and other renters would minimize vacancies. To date, departures have far surpassed arrivals. . . Brunswick provides law-enforcement and fire coverage of base housing for a fee based on a five-year agreement with GMH negotiated in 2004. Brown said the town receives monthly payments totaling a five-year sum of $611,000. Balfour Beatty representatives and town officials are in the midst of renegotiating that contract.

Maine birds named after people.

Bowdoin is adding a Toyota Tacoma pickup truck to its Zipcar fleet this fall.

New England blueberries seem to be holding up

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