Fishermen’s Forum 2015
Location: Samoset Resort, Rockport, ME
Date and Time: 3-5-15, 10am-12pm
Attending: Emma Fox, Bridie McGreavy, Anna Farrell, Chris Peterson, Fiona DeKonig, Joe Porada, Jim Norris, Allie Rohrer, Hannah Annis, Natalie Springuel.
Bridie McGreavy (Post-doctoral researcher at the University of Maine and FBP Secretary) introduced the New England SusTainability Consortium (NEST) session by describing the history with the University of Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative, continued involvement with key partners, and how the science is focused on solving problems. She then turned the session over to the researchers from the University of Maine.
Teresa Johnson (University of Maine) presented on harvester perceptions of the threats facing the shellfish industry in Maine, Kate Beard (University of Maine) presented on spatial analysis of DMR flood closure data, Kelly Cole (University of Maine) presented on numerical tools to track bacterial pathogens in estuaries, and Brian Beal (Downeast Institute) presented on the effects of predator exclusion on juvenile clam recruitment and survival. The notes on these presentations (in order) can be found at the end of this document.
The 610 Committee panel followed Brian’s presentation and Bridie announced that there would be no action planning session as previously planned, for the sake of keeping the Forum on schedule. Bridie opened the session by acknowledging similar partnership work done elsewhere, gave the regional context for the organization (Frenchman Bay), and an updated list of all the Partners. Bridie briefly introduced the Frenchman Bay Partner process of working the tides, specifically by scheduling meetings during high water to meet the needs of different Partner groups.
The 610 Committee panel presentation started with Joe Porada (Frenchman Bay Regional Shellfish Committee Chair), who described the initial stages of FBP shellfish involvement as a general interest which Bridie McGreavy, Jane Disney, and others took in helping to prepare meeting minutes for the Regional Shellfish Committee. He mentioned the progress the seven town regional ordinance group has made online, with the web page constructed by one of their own harvesters, as well as the Facebook page they now have. He applauded Bridie’s work with the 610 grants, and the assistance the DMR has provided for the ordinance committee over the years.
Allie Rohrer (Maine Department of Marine Resources) introduced herself as a DMR representative and a 610 Committee member. She talked about the positive impact that the committee meetings have had on the DMR relationship with the Regional Shellfish Committee—the meetings have created a space to openly share DMR interests, plans, and processes out to the Frenchman Bay Partners at large. The feedback at these meetings has helped the DMR identify “hot spots” for surveying places people are most interested in reopening.
Anna Farrell (AmeriCorps, Mount Desert Island Biological Lab) presented on behalf of MDIBL and talked about the birth of the initial partnerships from eelgrass restoration efforts. Anna provided a brief history of MDIBL eelgrass restoration efforts, gave context for agreements with mussel harvesters (https://frenchmanbaypartners.org/2013/01/frenchman-bay-mussel-harvesters-and-mdi-bio-lab-agree-on-eelgrass-restoration-plans/), mentioned recent bay-wide loss of eelgrass, and addressed the challenges in connecting efforts across local, state, and federal levels. Anna underscored the FBP goal to work informally outside the legislative model.
Hannah Annis (Maine Department of Marine Resources) introduced herself as both a DMR representative and a 610 committtee member. She echoed the messages from previous presentations that water quality related closures are a huge problem state wide. Hannah described the 610 acreage goal as substantial, but also mentioned that we are making significant progress. She emphasized the great hard work the harvesters have been doing on the seven town regional shellfish ordinance committee (all volunteers).
Chris Peterson (College of the Atlantic, FBP Vice President) introduced himself as a College of the Atlantic-affiliated 610 committee member. He described mudflat survey work with the Frenchman Bay Regional Shellfish Committee (RSC) and thanked the DMR for their support from the initial stages of the project. Chris made note of the municipal bottlenecks the 610 Committee keeps encountering in the process of trying to open mudflats closed to harvesting. Chris also made mention of the more recent grant geared toward trapping green crabs to mitigate predation on the mudflats. He emphasized the trial-and-error nature about the Committee’s grant work, but acknowledged that the engagement with DMR and partnership with the RSC has been a really valuable product, despite the slow speed of reopening clam flats.
Jim Norris (Frenchman Bay Regional Shellfish Committee) introduced himself as a 610 Committee member. He was thorough and concise in describing the history of the seven town ordinance Regional Shellfish Committee, specifically its formation in response to red-tide encroachment by outside harvesters in Frenchman Bay. Jim shared some of the difficulties the committee has faced since its inception: dealing with clam size violations, keeping license holders in line and restricting use by outside harvesters. He recalled early agreements around sensitive areas with mussel harvesters, and talked about progress in conflict resolution. Jim emphasized that although the group has progressed a lot in the last few years, there is still much to do and much to learn.
Common themes: working the tides, partnerships are valuable but they do take time, listening and respecting opinions and ideas, keep coming back to the issues to reinforce partnerships.
Notes on other presentations:
Teresa Johnson (University of Maine) presented her research with Elisabeth Maxwell (University of Maine graduate student) on harvester perceptions of threats to the shellfish industry. Their goal is to identify the larger pressing issues facing Maine’s shellfish industries, assess threats through scoping interviews with both aquaculturists and wild harvesters. Threats: green crabs, ocean acidification (climate change), population growth (encroachment in the coastal zone), as well as a general uncertainty with policy and science.
Kate Beard (University of Maine) presentated her work with Frank Xu (University of Maine graduate student) on spatial analysis of flood closure data from the DMR. They analyzed monthly and more frequent post-storm recovery data from 2800 stations along the Maine coast. Next steps for Kate and Frank’s research include taking a closer look at predicting recovery time for sites after flooding events—time analysis and spatial difference analysis correlated with more precipitation and storm intensity data (they are working with a National Weather Service dataset and some citizen science data too).
Kelly Cole (University of Maine postdoctoral researcher) presented on her research with Damian Brady (University of New Hampshire), using numerical tools to track bacterial pathogens in estuaries. The research is in its early stages, but Kelly shared a hydro-dynamic model illustrating the pulse-plume coming out of Merrimack, NH into the Gulf of Maine and explained its relevance to the Maine Coast (tidal swings lead to pulsing behavior) and potential usefulness for the DMR. Kelly also shared infrared camera imaging to show the front of freshwater and salt—depicting the salinity wall created at the mouth of rivers.
Brian Beal (Downeast Institute) presented on the effect of flexible netting on wild soft-shell clam survival and recruitment during manipulative field trials focused on the exclusion of predators from designated growing areas in Machias Bay mudflats. His study was small, pilot scale, but it presented an opportunity to touch on different observations he’d collected over the years, most notably the lack of rebound since the 1984 2-inch clam law (further study is needed) and the predominance of a juvenile clam set in areas that had been “roughed” (he stressed correlation, as there is no evidence yet for causation).