Act Now to Support Maine Farms and Food!

Apr 8, 2014 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

The Maine legislature is considering a bill that would help Maine farms bring more of their food to our tables. “An Act To Support School Nutrition and Expand the Local Foods Economy” (LD 1431) supports Maine in producing and consuming more of its own food. Under a two-pronged approach, the bill gives crucial start-up capital to emerging food hubs that meet certain criteria and incentivizes public schools to source Maine-grown or -harvested foods. It’s a win-win for Maine. (You can read more about this bill in my previous blog post.)

Please act now! The Maine legislature will vote on this bill any day.
Please show your support for Maine farmers and fresh local food by calling members of Maine’s Appropriations Committee, Senate President Justin Alfond, and House Speaker Mark Eves, asking them to fund this bill. Then, call your legislator, asking him or her to vote in favor of LD 1431. If you cannot call, please send an e-mail urging support. You can find your legislator here.

How Does This Bill Help Maine?
In Maine, we import the majority of the food we eat. But our state boasts the second highest concentration of Farm-to-School programs and direct-to-consumer farms and food businesses in the country (just a hair behind Vermont). Why, then, are we importing so much of our food? The answer lies partly with geography, partly with the marketplace, and partly with policy.

Let’s look at the easy one first—geography. If Mainers want large quantities of oranges, pineapples, or avocados, they must either move much farther south or import those foods from away. Unless we adopt a diet rooted more strongly in locality and seasonality, we are stuck hauling in food from out of state.

The marketplace is a little more complicated. Because of economies of scale, shipping in food from away can sometimes be cheaper for grocers, restaurants, institutional markets, and, ultimately, consumers. But the price of food does not always reflect its true cost. Several negative aspects of industrial-scale food production are not factored into the price of the end product. The producers of that food, in other words, do not absorb all the actual production costs.

Who does? We do. For example, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) increase the incidence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, cause air-quality problems for neighboring communities, contaminate watersheds with concentrated animal waste, and shift the social structure and economy of farming regions. Eventually, we will all pay the price if the true cost of production is not factored into our food.

As for policy, it can either hinder or help local food production. For example, subsidies in the federal farm bill have historically favored industrial-scale farms, making it harder for smaller, diversified farms to compete. CLF’s new regional food policy report offers many suggestions for eliminating policy barriers and filling in policy gaps.

LD 1431 is an example of sound policy that would help Maine’s farms, food businesses, and consumers. How can food hubs help Maine? A food hub is a business that collects, distributes, or markets food products from mostly local or regional producers and strengthens their ability to satisfy wholesale, retail, and institutional demand. Food hubs value and work closely with producers to ensure they receive a premium price for their products. Food hubs maintain a triple bottom line, focusing on economic, social, and environmental goals. These businesses offer a way to work with farmers and fishermen to get their products into the hands of more Mainers. Existing food hubs in Maine like Crown O’ Maine and Northern Girl are already doing just that. A national food hub conference a few weeks ago brought together food hub operators from around the country who have added tremendous value to their states by bringing fresh, locally sourced food to in-state communities that otherwise would not have access to those tasty and healthful products.

What’s the Status of the Bill?
Initially, new appropriations to the Departments of Education and Agriculture would have funded implementation of LD 1431. Unfortunately, those dollars have been cut from the amended bill. Funding to the Department of Education for public schools to receive local foods training and to source local food must now come from federal grants. The good news is that, in the near term, there are sufficient funds within Maine’s Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry to give food hubs grants and loans as directed by the bill.

Last week, the House and Senate unanimously passed this amended version of LD 1431. Now it sits with the Appropriations Committee. Because all funding was stripped from the bill, its price tag is under $5,000, mostly covering rulemaking costs. This paltry sum threatens a bill that would bring more fresh, local food to your table.

Please call your legislator to urge support for this important bill.
With your help, we can support Maine farmers, boost Maine’s economy, foster greater public health, and bring Maine-grown and -harvested foods to more Maine tables.

If you have questions about this bill, please contact Ben Tettlebaum at btettlebaum@clf.org.

Transportation Matters for Maine

Apr 3, 2014 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

downeaster

The Downeaster Boston–Portland service has exceeded its growth expectations every year.

Let’s face it, Maine is a big rural state (larger than the five remaining New England states taken together), where lowering greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles has been and will be a continuing challenge. CLF’s Maine office is actively engaged in three different projects with a wide range of partners who are determined to find practical solutions while improving the quality and sustainability of transportation services.

For more than two decades, as the Portland area has grown and expanded, there has been talk of creating a transit district in southern Maine that could improve and expand customer service across the diversity of travel modes, including fixed-route and on-demand bus services, ferries, and passenger rail. CLF has a seat on the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System transit committee, and Public Policy Advisor Malcolm Burson is playing a key role in facilitating conversations among public officials and transit operations managers.

In February, the first draft of a Transit Consolidation Feasibility Study was presented by outside consultants. A number of options are on the table, awaiting cost-benefit analysis, but it’s clear that a strong preference exists for a merger of three fixed-route providers. This would be the first step toward the eventual inclusion of other providers in a district that could serve approximately 40% of Maine’s population.

Senior Attorney Greg Cunningham, meanwhile, has led the effort to develop a pilot project designed to expand awareness and availability of electric vehicles (EVs), including their related charging infrastructure in Maine. CLF developed a straw proposal for a Greater Portland–based pilot that will provide grants for EVs and charging stations, look to create partnerships with businesses and municipalities to further EV technology use and awareness, and to collect data related to EV usage. The proposal was largely adopted by a working group comprised of EV advocates and representatives from Central Maine Power and was approved by the Public Utilities Commission. The pilot was initiated in March. “EVs have the potential to drastically reduce air pollution, including significant carbon emissions, from the transportation sector,” said Cunningham. “We hope that this pilot puts more EVs on the road and helps to demonstrate to Mainers just how convenient and cost effective this technology has become.”

Maine has been a great success story for the expansion of passenger rail in northern New England. The Downeaster Boston–Portland service has exceeded its growth expectations every year and recently expanded service to now serve Freeport (think L.L. Bean) and Brunswick, home of Bowdoin College. Once again, ridership exceeded projections from the first day of service, with greater numbers of passengers who were clearly using this as a commuter option. Now, the Maine Department of Transportation has convened a Passenger Rail Advisory Council to look at the opportunities and challenges for expanding passenger rail service in Maine. Executive Vice President and CLF Maine Director Sean Mahoney has been asked to serve on the Council as the representative from the public-interest sector. According to Sean, “the opportunity to increase transportation alternatives for Mainers and decrease dependence on cars has significant upside for Maine’s economy and environment, and I look forward to working with other members of the Council to capitalize on that opportunity.”

Maine Legislature Takes First Step Towards Averting Disastrous Impacts of Ocean Acidification

Mar 12, 2014 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

Maine’s legislature is taking early steps to address increasingly acidic ocean waters in the Gulf of Maine that threaten the state’s shellfisheries and marine ecosystem.

The Gulf of Maine has become increasingly more acidic as CO2 emissions from industrial sources and vehicles get deposited in the water, where the carbon mixes to form carbonic acid. This problem is aggravated by polluted stormwater runoff.  The more acidic seawater has been shown to dissolve juvenile clam shells, and larvae are avoiding the most acidic mudflats. Studies predict that the increasing acidity, if left unchecked, will also stunt the growth of lobsters, and cause them to develop thicker shells. Oyster production is also expected to drop dramatically.

Maine is more dependent on its marine resources for its economic health than any other state in the Northeast. Nearly 6,000 active harvesters work in our lobster and clam fisheries alone, while hundreds of other industries and communities support, and depend on, this vital source of revenue and livelihoods.

Last week, the Maine Legislature’s Marine Resources Committee took a giant first step towards addressing the problem when it voted unanimously to send a bill that authorizes a study of the issue to the house floor. The bill, introduced by Representative Mick Devin, would establish a 16-member panel to identify what further study is needed and what legislation can be introduced in the 2015 legislative session to address ocean acidification. The bill starts a critical process designed to counteract ocean acidification now, rather than waiting until it has rotted away our shellfish industry and irrevocably changed the fish that can survive in our waters.

CLF strongly supports this first but significant step in averting this potential economic and environmental crisis. We joined with other organizations and fishing interests to help ensure positive support for Representative Devin’s bill in the Marine Resources Committee. In the near future, the bill will go to the floor for a vote by the full legislature. Please contact your legislators and let them know of your support for this important bill. If you want to learn more, post a comment or email ifrignoca@clf.org.

Maine’s Most Lucrative Fishery Threatened by Pesticides?

Feb 26, 2014 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

Last month, Maine legislator Walter Kumiega introduced a bill that would ban the use of two pesticides, methoprene and resmethrin, in any body of water or area in the state that drains into the Gulf of Maine. We’re all familiar with some of the negative consequences of certain pesticides – from DDT’s effect on birds described in Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring to the more recent concerns about some chemicals’ role in crashing honeybee populations. But Kumiega’s bill is unusual in that it seeks to protect a marine species, not a terrestrial one – lobsters.

Lobsters are by far Maine’s most valuable fishery. In 2012, the state landed 126.6 million pounds of lobster with a value of more than $340 million, and around 80% of the state’s fishing revenues currently come from these tasty crustaceans. This heavy reliance on one species means that Maine’s fisheries are very vulnerable to any natural or human change that might harm the lobster population.

A crash in the currently abundant lobster population is a very real possibility, as fishermen in Long Island Sound know well. Connecticut and New York once had booming lobster fisheries. In 1998, for example, Connecticut landed over 3.7 million pounds of lobster, while New York landed nearly 7.9 million pounds. But that fishery collapsed rapidly over the past 15 years. In 2012, Connecticut caught just 241,000 pounds of lobster, and New York caught just 270,000 pounds.

This precipitous crash in the lobster fishery has been linked to two factors. First, climate change has led to warmer water temperatures in Long Island Sound. The area was already the southern edge of lobsters’ range, and areas that were once hospitable to lobsters quickly became too warm. A Massachusetts state biologist recently told a group of fishermen that he doubted lobsters would recover in waters south of Cape Cod any time soon, because water temperatures are simply so high that lobsters have moved north or farther offshore to lay their eggs. In addition, higher water temperatures may make conditions more favorable for the spread of a shell disease that makes lobsters unfit for sale. lobsters

Water temperatures aren’t the only thing linked to the lobster crash, however. During the 1990s, two pesticides were sprayed extensively in the New York area to control the mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus. These chemicals were later identified in the tissues of dead lobsters in Long Island Sound. Despite the claims of government scientists that there is not enough evidence to link pesticides to the lobster decline, in the mid-2000s, three chemical companies reached multimillion-dollar settlements with lobstermen for their role in the die-off. Pesticides have also been blamed in a smaller die-off in New Brunswick’s Passamaquoddy Bay.

This takes us back to Maine’s proposed bill. Methoprene and resmethrin are apparently used sparingly in Maine and have not been used by state agencies, but Kumiega says the legislation is a preventative measure to protect the state’s valuable lobster fishery. Some, however, are concerned the bill does not go far enough and might provide a “false sense of security.” The executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association told the Portland Press-Herald that lobstermen worry banning two pesticides could limit research into other environmental changes and pollutants that could harm the lobster fishery. They want a more thorough analysis of which pesticides might harm lobsters, and the state seems to agree—the Department of Marine Resources is considering a sediment survey of Casco Bay to assess the presence of pollutants.

With such a large portion of Maine’s fishing revenues dependent on lobsters, more research into what could deplete their population – whether it’s fishing pressure, climate change, or pesticides – will be critically important. Connecticut and New York have already lost a once-thriving fishery, and Maine’s marine ecosystems and coastal communities can’t afford to do the same.

Food Hubs Can Help Grow a More Resilient Food System in Maine

Jan 30, 2014 by  | Bio |  1 Comment »

food-hubs

Locally grown food could soon get a boost in Maine.
Photo Credit: *w* via Compfight cc

The average Maine meal travels 1,900 miles from field to fork. With that distance come numerous costs. All those food miles increase fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Maine farmland no longer in production is often lost to urban and suburban development, which also means the loss of the conservation practices of many of these farmers. Eating Maine-grown food generates greater economic value for every dollar spent. By importing food from away, valuable food dollars leak out of the state instead of being reinvested in the local economy.

Fortunately, Maine has the ability to grow and harvest much of the food it needs. In the current session of the Maine legislature, a bill (LD 1431) entitled “An Act To Support School Nutrition and Expand the Local Foods Economy” would lay an important foundation for getting Maine to produce and consume more of its own food. The Maine Environmental Priorities Coalition, of which CLF is a member, chose this bill as one of its top legislative priorities. It provides much-needed capital to food hubs that will grow the local food economy — creating jobs for farmers, producers, and food distributors — improve the quality and nutritional value of school food for Maine’s children, and foster a more resilient food system.

Growing a Robust Local Food System
So what are food hubs? They’re a valuable tool for supporting smaller farms and expanding local-food production and availability. These businesses or organizations collect, distribute, and market food products from mostly local and regional producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy wholesale, retail, and institutional demand. Importantly, food hubs value and work closely with producers to ensure they receive a premium price for their products. Food hubs maintain a triple bottom line, focusing on economic, social, and environmental goals.

Based on the “Report and Recommendations of the Maine Farm to School Work Group,” LD 1431 is carefully drafted to overcome barriers to building a more robust local food system. First, the bill addresses the logistical challenges of matching many smaller-scale producers to institutional and other large food markets. Second, it tackles the practical difficulties farmers face in handling and storing larger quantities of food, particularly year round. Finally, it better prepares public schools — an important potential consumer of local foods — to buy, prepare, and serve Maine-grown and -harvested foods.

LD 1431 achieves these goals through incentives, not mandates. In Phase 1, the bill funds market-feasibility studies to identify the availability of fresh foods and seafood grown (or, in the case of seafood, harvested) in Maine, and the institutional demand for this food. With existing market information limited, these studies will play a crucial role in determining the viability of food hubs around the state.

Funding Food Hubs and Expanding Access
In Phase 2 — the core of the bill — individuals submit applications for grants or low-interest loans to start food hubs. The feasibility studies under Phase 1 (or an applicant’s demonstration of comparable market knowledge) are necessary to receive funding. Applicants must also meet several criteria that show they can succeed. In this way, the bill ensures wise investment of public dollars in food hubs that have strong business plans and are most likely to expand the local food system.

The bill recognizes that public schools in particular face challenges with purchasing and preparing fresh, local produce. To address these hurdles, LD 1431 funds six regional training programs for school food-service workers. The programs will teach how to buy and prepare local foods, and encourage collaboration and a sense of community statewide among food-service personnel. Currently, the state matches $1 for every $3 a school district spends on local produce, up to a maximum of $1,000. The bill raises the annual reimbursement to $2,000 for school districts that send at least one food-service employee to a local-foods training.

Investing in Maine’s Food and Future
The bulk of funding for LD 1431 comes from a $6 million bond that would go to the voters if the legislature passes the bill. This is a sound long-term investment for Maine. Several studies show that dollars spent through food hubs boost local economies much more than dollars spent on imported food. In fact, every $100 spent on local food has the potential to generate an additional $63 in the local economy. LD 1431 would build a stronger food system and a stronger economy in Maine.

Maine’s Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee is currently debating the bill. While CLF works to get this bill to the full legislature for a vote, be sure to check back here to track our progress on this smart investment in Maine’s future.

Such A Deal: New Pipelines for Tar Sands Oil Bad for the Environment And Will Raise Gas Prices

Sep 4, 2013 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

Anyone who follows CLF’s work knows about plans being pushed to move oil derived from tar sands in Canada through pipelines that would cut across Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.  The purpose of the these pipelines is simple and clear: to allow this oil to reach the sea and foreign markets that can only be reached by oil tanker.

It is easy to understand why the Canadian oil industry, and the multi-national petroleum companies with big Canadian investments, want to move the oil extracted from the Tar Sands of Western Canada out to the larger world markets: doing so will mean they make A LOT of money.  The Canadian petroleum industry has explained this for us all very helpfully in an ad found on page 2 of the June-July 2013 issue of the Canadian Public Policy and Politics magazine with the zippy name of “Policy” that we reprint here.

The ad confirms the tar-sands-oilpurpose of the wave of pipeline building being pushed by the Canadian petroleum industry (and ExxonMobil and Koch Industries, the owners of leading Canadian companies like Imperial Oil/Esso and Flint Hills Resources): to raise the price of Canadian oil up to the levels found on many global markets.  As the ad shows, using little prices tags, the price of oil in the North American market hovers around $85 a barrel at times when the same barrel of oil sells for $110 elsewhere in the world. If the producers, refiners and sellers of that oil have access to world markets they can demand that North American customers pay them the higher price if they want to buy this oil.  This reality is especially stark when you look at the fact that oil refining companies with operations in the United States just don’t care if these pipelines get built – they are fully occupied with oil extracted right here at home.  It is just Canadian companies (and the multi-national companies like ExxonMobil and Koch who own Canadian operations) who profit from the push for these pipelines.

So we know who wins if new pipelines carry Canadian oil to reach global markets: the petroleum companies who reap the higher prices found beyond the United States and Canada. But who loses?

The answer to that requires us to think both about the short-term in which we all live our day-to-day lives and the longer-term world in which future generations will have to live.

When we think about immediate and short-term concerns for our families and businesses it doesn’t get any more real than gasoline prices.

Supporters of building pipelines to move Canadian oil to market generally and the highest profile project, the Keystone XL pipeline that would move oil through the middle of the United States from Canada to the Gulf Coast, invoke gas prices as a reason for taking that step, at least implying that the new pipelines will drive down gas prices.

However,  it is well documented in a number of reports and studies that Midwestern drivers would see gasoline prices rise on the order of 42 cents a gallon if that pipeline is built. And this is not surprising – if the oil used to make gasoline is being sold (and bought) at higher prices then gasoline prices will rise.

So in the short term – the losers in this equation? Anyone who buys gasoline or relies upon goods or services that rely on gasoline or diesel fuel that are transported by car, truck, ship or airplane – in short all of us.

And that doesn’t even get into the critical longer term issue: that tapping into the tar sands oil, bringing them to market and burning them would be a large step towards the devastating climate disaster that is unfolding around us and that we need to stop.

There are those who disagree with this assessment. Some politicians argue that tar sands oil from Canada is needed to free ourselves from dependence on oil imported from volatile (and often hostile) nations overseas.  They suggest that these pipelines will simply bring it that oil to markets we, here in the U.S., draw upon, oddly ignoring the stated purpose of the pipelines to bring the oil to higher-priced offshore markets.

And there are thoughtful and detailed analyses that disagree with the climate argument about this oil.  This analysis argues that if the tar sands oil is not brought to market that it will simply be replaced by slightly-easier-to-access Venezuelan oil with a very similar carbon footprint.

That climate impact analysis, and the political argument for building pipelines to tap into tar sands oil, however ignore one important, essential and difficult option: use less oil instead. The advent of electric vehicles, smarter urban development and increases in transit use all converge to show us a way forward and off of oil. The increase in fuel economy standards, a process that is well underway, is a step on that path.

Getting off oil will not be easy.  As the social critic, songwriter and bicycle enthusiast David Byrne has noted, “From the age of the Dinosaurs, cars have run on gasoline.”  Changing something so fundamental will be hard but it is what we need to do; that is what in all of our interests, not laying new pipelines to bring ancient oil derived from the cracking and boiling of tar sands to foreign markets where it will be burned and released into the atmosphere.

 

 

Day of Celebration on the St. Croix

Jun 7, 2013 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

Alewives - St. Croix celebration

Members of all groups participate in a Circle Dance lead by Passamaquoddy Leaders

It’s not often you get the chance to celebrate such a clear victory for the environment as the return of the alewife to the St. Croix River watershed.  As discussed in prior posts, a Maine law prohibiting alewives from accessing this fish ladder at the Grand Falls Dam was repealed this past May and for the first time in two decades, alewives are able to return to their spawning grounds upriver.  The victory was celebrated not only with partners like Chief Clayton Cleaves of the Passamaquoddy Tribe and the Downeast Salmon Federation but also with former adversaries, like the US EPA who we sued in order to break the logjam with the federal agencies and establish that the Maine law violated the Clean Water Act. For more background on the case and additional media coverage of this event, see these articles by MPBN and Bangor Daily News.

Alewives - St. Croix celebration 2

Sean Mahoney and son Owen hold one of the boards removed from the fish ladder

With the removal of this board  and six other just like it, the fish ladder is now open and alewives are returning to the St. Croix River. Work remains to be done on the St. Croix and it was heartening to witness representatives of the Federal trust agencies and the Passamaquoddy Tribe sign a statement of cooperation pledging to  work toward the complete restoration of the St. Croix River. CLF will continue to advocate for the restoration of alewives and blueback herring not only on the St. Croix River but in watersheds throughout New England. And just as importantly, CLF will be working to reduce the bycatch of these critical forage fish at sea when they are migrating back to their natal waters.

It was wonderful to share in the day with CLF board members Davis Pike and Anne Hayden, and CLF supporter Owen Mahoney, as well as other partners such as Lisa Pohlman of NRCM and Landis Hudson of Maine Rivers.  While much work remains, it is truly a thing to celebrate when we are able to reverse the damage we have done to our environment by building broad coalitions, using good science, holding accountable those who are entrusted to enforce the law, and, in this case, removing 7 boards from a fish ladder.

From left: Lisa Pohlman, Davis Pike, Sean Mahoney (with fish), Anne Hayden, and  Landis Hudson

From left: Lisa Pohlman, Davis Pike, Sean Mahoney (with fish), Anne Hayden, and Landis Hudson

Fishway Opens at Cumberland Mills Dam in Westbrook

May 8, 2013 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

Do you recognize these fish?

alewives river herring maine

They are anadromous alewives, also known as river herring. These small fish leave the ocean and swim upriver to spawn each May and June in Maine ponds and lakes. They provide food and cover for other migrating fish and are a critical part of the food chain in the ocean. Because so many Maine rivers are blocked by dams, the number of alewives has dipped dangerously low, so much so that the National Marine Fisheries Service is considering listing them under the Endangered Species Act. Through a series of legal actions, this trend is reversing.

For 150 years, alewives have been unable to swim upstream to spawn in the Presumpcot River. They have been blocked by a series of dams. The first dam in the series, the Cumberland Mills Dam, is at Sappi’s paper mill in Westbrook.

  Ivy dowload 05072013 737

What’s changed at the Cumberland Mills Dam?

In 2009, in a  proceeding initiated and prosecuted by CLF and the Friends of the Presumpscot River, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife ordered Sappi to construct a fishway through the dam. After two years of construction, the nearly five million dollar fishway is completed and will enable fish to pass above the dam. It opened with fanfare on May 1, 2013 and awaits the spring migration of alewives and shad.

Sappi now has another two years to build a fishway at its next dam upstream, and then as the fish return to their native habitat must construct fish passage at four other dams beyond that. The timing will depend on how many fish migrate up the river. CLF’s Executive Vice President Sean Mahoney, with another attorney for the Friends of the Presumpscot River, spear-headed the petition that has led to the re-opening of the river to alewives and shad.

Sappi plans to create a webpage which will in part track the progress of alewives up the river.  We will share that resource when we have it. Keep checking back here, on CLF Scoop, for more!

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Alewives Now Able to Swim Freely in The St. Croix: Maine’s Economy, Environment, and People to Benefit

Apr 25, 2013 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

alewives river herring maine

Alewives in Maine. Credit: Bremen Conservation Committee

After 18 years, Maine alewives can finally swim freely into their ancestral habitat on the St. Croix River.

On Monday, April 22nd, with little fanfare legislation that essentially repeals a Maine law passed in 1995 that has prevented alewives from using existing fish ladders to surmount the Woodland  and the Grand Falls Dams on the St. Croix. The law comes into force without the usual fanfare because Governor LePage refused to sign it but also couldn’t veto it in light of its overwhelming support in the Legislature.

This victory caps a two-year effort by CLF advocates to restore a fishery that numbered close to 3 million before the 1995 law closed the fish ladder and the number of alewives dwindled to less than 10,000. The alewife, an anadromous fish that lives in the ocean but travels up rivers each spring to spawn, is a “keystone species” that provides food for many animals, birds and larger fish species native to Maine’s marine and fresh waters. In a classic case of fisheries mismanagement, despite its recognized importance, the fate of the alewife was sacrificed upon the altar of bad science and even worse politics.

Last year CLF successfully filed suit against the EPA to enforce the Clean Water Act’s water quality standards, resulting in a conclusion by EPA that there was no “…sound scientific rationale for excluding indigenous river herring (or other migratory species) from the St. Croix River.” CLF then used that decision as a basis in a subsequent suit against the State to invalidate the law. We at CLF are pleased that these lawsuits, which received not just the support of the EPA, but also the many organizations across the state of Maine, including the Passamaquoddy Tribe, who have had their shoulder to this wheel for many years, helped to move the legislation to become a law.

“It’s a historic moment,” Rep. Madonna Soctomah, who represents the Passamaquoddy Tribe in support of the legislation, was quoted as saying in the Portland Press Herald. “It’s a really good day for Maine people and the environment.”

That’s a belief that was shared widely amongst Maine’s legislature. The Marine Resources Committee unanimously endorsed the bill, before it went on to pass by a margin of 123-24 in the House and 33-0 in the Senate.

It is truly an historic occasion and one that would not have been possible without the commitment and hard work of a coalition of fishermen, environmentalists, the Passamaquoddy Tribe and many others.

To be sure, there are still challenges to meet to ensure that the St. Croix native fisheries are fully restored to the watershed, including upcoming relicensing proceedings for the Vanceboro and Grand Lake dams further up the St. Croix River. We look forward to continuing to work with on those efforts, and to restoring not just the St. Croix but other rivers in Maine.

For a full archive of CLF’s blog posts and updates on L.D. 72, click here or visit: http://www.clf.org/blog/tag/alewives/

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