Vol. 9, No. 9  September 2004    News & Comment for and by the Fishermen of Maine          SUBSCRIBE NOW!!
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Bycatch Blues
by Paul Molyneaux

  On August 10, 2004, two mid-water pair trawlers, the Starlight and the Providian, are reported to have landed an estimated 46,000 pounds of illegal juvenile haddock mixed with their catches of herring. The vessels had haddock bycatches estimated at 4.5 and 4 percent, respectively. According to the Maine Marine Patrol, federal enforcement agents declined to take action against the two boats at the time, though that decision is now under review. Frank O’Hara, of the Rockland based O’Hara Corporation, manager of the Starlight and several other vessels, refused to comment on the incidents. But groundfish fishermen, who have faced drastic cutbacks in order to rebuild haddock and other multispecies stocks, were outraged.
  “I’ve got 52 days to fish,” said Roger Libby of Port Clyde, Maine. “To let these herring boats scoop up small cod and haddock is quite upsetting.”
   The 46,000 pounds of juvenile haddock caught by two mid-water boats, out of a fleet of 25, could represent a loss of over a million pounds of legal-sized haddock, worth $1.3 million at current prices. Word from fishermen, lobstermen, and bait dealers, is that the occurrence of groundfish in the mid-water herring catches is not a unique event. Nonetheless, regulators characterized the gear as “incapable of catching groundfish.”
  Libby first reported haddock bycatch in mid-water-trawler-caught herring in January, 1999. “We had it all documented,” he said. “We stood out in the cold all day, counting fish.” They found 1,472 small haddock in 185 bushels of bait.

Mid-water trawler Jean McCausland leaving Portsmouth Harbor, Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Paul Molyneaux Photo

  The vessel that landed the illegal fish, the Atlantic Mariner, was charged with two violations: possession of regulated multispecies, and possession of undersized haddock. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) fined the vessel owners $25,000 — an amount equal to the value of an average trip by a mid-water boat.

Unique Event Or Chronic Problem ?
  Mid-water trawling with single boats and pairs took over the herring fishery in the late 90’s (see sidebar), and in February,1998, the mid-water boats received an exemption that


Stone Age Pickup
by Mike Crowe

   Just as early coastal Maine settlers built boats to fish offshore, their Native American forebears were boat builders, whose great boat was the inland waterway canoe.
   While they used it some on the coast, for thousands of years before the settlers arrived, they went all over what is now the interior of Maine. Archaeological evidence found just above Old Town, indicates Native Americans occupied the area 7,000 years ago. Plenty of time to work the bugs out of canoe design. The product of untold centuries of development, the result was the highly-developed, sophisticated, ultra light, birch bark canoe.
   To fully appreciate how native Americans developed this canoe, it is necessary to see a real birch bark canoe. A well- crafted bark canoe has smooth rounded sides, sharp entry, an efficient wetted surface, and a sweeping sheer line. The vessel is strong and remarkably light weight.
   The bark canoe was “the” native boat of New England and eastern Canada. Rollin Thurlow, who has built wood and canvas canoes for twenty-five years said, “the birch bark canoe is a joy to paddle. It moves with you when you paddle. Since it is tied together, not nailed, it flexes in the water.”


This 16' canoe was a standard size, all-purpose model built by native Americans.
The Abenaki tribe used the fiddlehead pattern to decorate the sides. The fleur-de-lis
would have been added after the French arrived in the late 1500’s. Henri Vaillancourt
built this canoe in 2003.
H. Vaillancourt Photo


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