Vol. 12, No. 11 – November 2007    News & Comment for and by the Fishermen of Maine          SUBSCRIBE NOW!!
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Gloves Come Off Over Groundfish
by Chris Weiner

New England’s beleaguered groundfish fishery has suffered under many years of regulations aimed at rebuilding stocks of cod, haddock and other groundfish. Groundfish closed areas, including rolling closures, have kept these fishermen out of many areas off the New England coast for years.

Based on questionable decisions, though, massive herring midwater trawlers have been allowed to fish in these areas despite towing larger nets, with smaller mesh, at a higher speed than any groundfish vessels are capable of.

On October 11, Earthjustice filed a petition on behalf of the Midcoast Fishermen’s Association and the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance—groups that represent groundfish fishermen—asking the Secretary of Commerce and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to change regulations that currently allow these large herring trawlers to fish in areas off limits to the region’s groundfish fleet.

The petition was filed with the Secretary of Commerce under the authority of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Earthjustice attorney Roger Fleming explained, “The APA grants anyone the right to petition an agency (in this case, Commerce) to issue a rule, change a rule, or repeal a rule. Consistent with the Magnuson Act, we’re asking the Secretary to issue an emergency rule to exclude midwater trawlers from the groundfish closed areas


Before the industrial trawler fleet harvested herring, these important fish harvested weirs. Only schooling herring swam into the pole and net weirs that once lined the coast of Maine. The fish swim in but can't find their way out. Before vacuum hoses were used to pump the fish into a carrier boat, they were dipped out of the net by hand. The method was easier on the resource and spread the wealth to more fishermen. Chessie Johnson photo © 2007

Ghosts Kidd Barney
by Mike Crowe

The hunting season, Halloween and the elections clustered together as they are can suggest a lot of parallels. One thing they definitely have in common is tall tales and legends. Legends unlike tall tales, are considered to have some basis in fact, at least in part. In downeast Maine, for example, the legend of Tall Barney is based on a 19th century Jonesport resident named Barney Beal. Whether Tall Barney did all the things attributed to him is tough to say, although some folks downeast are pretty sure he did. Another is the legend of Captain Kidd. Kidd was a pirate at the end of the 1600s who was known to have plundered coastal shipping and visited the Maine coast in the process. Did he bury any “treasure” along the coast? A lot of holes have been dug by those who believe he did.

Legends combine some local history with superstition, belief and exaggeration in a stew where each is not always easily identified. Belief in the supernatural, omens and the recognition that extraordinary people have done extraordinary things helps to keep some legends alive.


Painting of a treasure fantasy. Pirate or treasure hunter sifting through gold coins. The 19th century version of the lottery. (Island Journal, Volume Six.) The Treasure Cave, N.C. Wyeth. Courtesy New York Public Library