Real salmon, environment need as much help as they can get

Along with the July 5 guest column by Andrew Goode in The Republican Journal is the tagline explaining that the Atlantic Salmon Federation, of which Mr. Goode is vice president, formed in 1948, is dedicated to the conservation, protection and restoration of wild Atlantic salmon and the ecosystems on which their wellbeing and survival depend.

I disagree with his column's assertion that "land-based salmon farms will benefit Maine."

First he states that Mainers treasure healthy wild places but (emphasis mine) we also need prosperity and jobs. As if we don't already have those, but how is the prosperity taxed and distributed? What kind of jobs?

Next Andrew Goode states these new fish operations can protect our waters and native fish, as later he states Atlantic Salmon Federation trials show the fish can be produced without vaccines, antibiotics or pesticides. But will they? Also, Nordic Aquafarms has been vague, and glib, around what they plan to feed these super-fish.

His assertion of "control" is similarly suspect. Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations such as these often lose control, or often enough to be too risky for Belfast, particularly on the massive scale of the proposed NAF plant.

The statement that this operation will have "no" impact on wild salmon, other species of fish, marine mammals, crustaceans, or seabirds is laughable. Where's the proof to support these claims? This foreign corporation aims to produce 33,000 tons of artificial salmon, every year, on Belfast's doorstep, using our aquifer, and Penobscot Bay, and woo-hoo, like magic, there's no impact?

This column goes on to admit there have been concerns raised about waste (ignoring all the other concerns, too many to list here).

Then he cherry-picks some stats that make the operation compare favorably to "other" industries.

Next, Mr. Goode refers to Maine's "strict permitting process." It's my understanding that this new industry is currently unregulated, giving the foreign corporation (the U.S. branch is incorporated in Delaware. Do you know why Delaware, rather than Maine?) the opportunity to work with the state to craft industry-friendly regs.

After gee-whizzing to the massive initial investment required to launch such a plant (no mention of what it looks like if they fail halfway through), the author goes on to say the company has been listening to local concerns. More like in one ear and out the other.

Environmentally friendly. Sustainable. These warm and fuzzy terms (heck, they'll have solar panels, and a visitors’ center!) are bandied about like warm honey to the ears.

I suggest Mr. Goode go back to truly focusing on Atlantic Salmon Federation's original mission. The Atlantic Salmon Federation is dedicated to the conservation, protection and restoration of wild Atlantic salmon and the ecosystems on which their wellbeing and survival depend.

Real salmon, and the environment we all depend on, need as much help as they can get.

Lew McGregor


Give the mayor a break

A simple "thank you for your comment and now we can move on" will suffice as a response to public comments that are patently provocative. Such comments speak for themselves and need no response.

My graduate administrative studies on group dynamics were extensive. These studies fully support all of the mayor's positions. In my training and in many years serving on committees and on councils, I know that a group acting with vague ground rules is inherently in some degree of dysfunction that will preclude optimal decision-making.

One councilor asserted that the council decides how it wants its meetings run and asks the mayor to preside over them. The councilor misspoke. The word means to exercise control and authority as a judge presides over his court room. Gasp! Such a place has strict ground rules!

Note that said councilor should be held in contempt. He disavowed hostility yet accused the mayor of having an instinctive desire to impose her position and as having excessively authoritarian instincts.

Rather, in fact, she is acting on good research. It was a personal attack with false pretenses at a remarkable level of hostility. While said councilor is looking up "presides," "hostility," "hypocrisy" and "hyperbole" should be included on the list. Of important note: The mayor responded to the hostility with great skill.

It is not taking breaks that have been called arbitrary that is the problem. After all, whose fault is it if they run over the allotted time? Besides, anything regularly scheduled and supported by a good rationale is hardly arbitrary. (Note that spurious arguments are mere distractions ― cover-ups).

I have watched many City Council meetings on TV (I know, I need to get a life). It is obvious that the councilors like to talk a lot. I have actually timed councilors while making their points. One spoke at length for over five minutes only to be followed by another who reiterated the entire previous statement and added several embellishments for "ownership." The first councilor made good points. The second councilor needed to take some credit, too. This need is known as self-aggrandizement and indicates that the counselor is ego-boosting and is not in a pure decision-making mode, all at the expense of a more efficient and productive meeting.

There are many interesting strategies involved in over-talking at meetings, but this is a topic for another article.

No, it is not the breaks. It is that some councilors are virtuosos of verbosity.

A final note: It is human nature to treat people based upon their behavior.

Keith Dunson


Seaweed (rockweed) harvesting is not just in court

Last Wednesday, while kayaking in Fort Point Cove, my daughter saw five huge balls of seaweed attached by a line to a mooring just out from Shute’s landing. Thursday morning, there was a long line of flotsam with logs, debris and seaweed floating by on the incoming tide more than a mile long. Strange.

I remarked to my family, “It’s not an usually high tide and there’s no full moon, nor has there been any storm or high winds.”

The same thing occurred Friday morning although not so large.

Later Friday, while walking on the shore, I saw what at first appeared to be a boat aground on the eastern point of Devereaux’s Cove. It was a lobster-type boat with a strange-looking piece of equipment on the back.

As I neared it I realized, finally, it wasn’t aground but was operating some kind of equipment digging into the seabed below and collecting seaweed and twirling it into a huge ball. Moments later another boat came along, tied a line onto the ball and towed it away toward the other balls on the mooring line near Shute’s landing. I later discovered that there were two boats with the odd-looking equipment and the third boat was doing the pick-up for both.

From the Maine Marine Resource Department I learned that there is no regulation, no oversight, no licensing, no law against commercial rockweed harvesting, unless property owners own to the low water mark.

You cannot dig a clam, catch a lobster, moor your boat, cut a tree in the coastal zone with getting a town or state permit or license or payment of a fee. But you can dig up large swaths of the seabed in the bay and its coves, even though there is a lawsuit pending in the Supreme Court. That case I believe involves Canadians harvesting in Maine. I just didn’t know a similar phenomenon was happening right here in Waldo County, and I have a lot of questions.

Is this destroying our entire coastal ecosystem? Is the seaweed home to critters that start the food chain for all the marine life? Is the seaweed itself food for some if its inhabitants? In the case of Fort Point Cove, is it digging up the mercury from the old Orrington plant that we are waiting all these years to get rid of so that shellfish and lobstering here won’t be off limits?

Maybe this practice is harmless, but don’t we deserve some answers? Shouldn’t the towns or the state get some answers and regulate this?

For the first time in years, there have been innumerable schools of fish, seals and birds off these shores ― making a comeback after years of pollution. Let’s not let anything set us back again. Please, all you elected officials and departments of environmental protections, some answers, please.

For more information: Washington, “Along Maine’s Northeastern Coast Seaweed Stirs an International Controversy.”

Margaret McGrath

Stockton Springs

Send Herbig to Senate

As a 70-year-old, I am naturally concerned about issues affecting the elderly.

In my case, I have good health insurance and a decent retirement income.  However, many other elderly citizens of this state are not as fortunate as I am and need assistance to receive adequate health care, including hospitalization services and home health care.

Maine state Rep. Erin Herbig, serving as House chairman of the Aging Caucus, has worked diligently to allow more Maine seniors to maintain their dignity and independence by remaining able to continue to age in their own homes and own communities. She supports family caregivers and fights to ensure that funding for hospitals and home health care is made available to that end.

Additionally, Rep. Herbig is committed to growing the economy of her district and the state by supporting the businesses that provide job opportunities to our citizens.

I urge the voters of Waldo County state Senate District 11 to vote to send her to the Maine Senate in November.

Darryl C. Parker, Past President

National Association of Letter Carriers, Branch 391


Dogs, cats, rabbits require better living arrangements

I am one of several former volunteers from Peace Ridge Sanctuary who puts up posters around the region trying to find a home for Lucy, one of the dogs at the facility. For the past four months, every time we put up a poster at the Belfast Co-op, someone takes it down by the middle of the month.

Lucy and some other dogs at this facility have been there for a long time ― in Lucy's case, about two years. There is at least one other dog who is not even listed on the organization's website, so no one knows anything about her. She has been there since summer 2017.

Peace Ridge is a sanctuary for previously farmed animals, and they have no doubt improved the lives of many horses, cows, goats, etc. These farmed animals generally have large pastures and the freedom to safely roam.

The dogs, cats and rabbits, however, are living in spaces inappropriate for their species. The dogs do not have a fenced area large enough for them to run, and they are generally not off leash. We believe that crates have been used to excess, in violation of the very adoption contract to which potential adopters must agree.

At times, some of these dogs have been able to live in onsite cabins with volunteers, but that is only short-term and sporadic. The bottom line is that these highly social animals don't have families of their own, nor the stimulation that is so vital to mental health.

According to the website, Lucy is the focus of a “community outing program.” How often does she go out in the community, and where does she go? Has anyone seen Lucy?

Dogs, cats and rabbits are not in keeping with the mission of a farmed animal sanctuary. We estimate that nearly 100 tags have been torn off the Lucy posters, taken by people who had at least some interest in meeting this sweet girl. Yet, months later, she is still waiting for a home. While careful screening of potential adopters is laudable, if this facility will not provide the type of long-term living environments these animals need, they need to work harder to get these animals adopted, or let another animal shelter step in.

Jamila Levasseur


Why must we ‘sweeten’ the deal?

You may not be aware of this, but the city of Belfast is giving almost a quarter of a million dollars to Nordic Aquafarms to “sweeten the deal” of letting it build an industrial fish farm in our town. My question is, why?

The company has told us that it has searched the world over, and Belfast is the best place on earth for its operation. So why does the deal need sweetening? Why does a Norwegian corporation with investors ready to spend $150 million initially to develop the site need corporate welfare from the taxpayers of a small Maine town?

There are some who might point out that if the city has that much money to give away, then it should be returned to the taxpayers. Here’s another idea.

Use the money to set up a fund to aid existing Belfast businesses that want to expand in the city. It could be an out-and-out grant (which is what NAF is receiving) or a low-interest/no-interest revolving loan fund.

There would be an application process with requirements, of course, and a review committee would be formed. For example, the company must have been doing business in Belfast for at least five years and want to expand and create jobs. It would need to be year-round and small enough to have no more than, say, 10 employees with revenue of less than a particular amount to be decided. The business would commit to creating a certain number of jobs based on its current size and expansion plans, and would need to submit a business plan. (I suggest having at least one banker on the committee to evaluate the business plan.)

This approach has many advantages that the NAF project does not have: Most of the profits would be kept locally. We would be supporting our neighbors who have been serving us all these years and who have a proven track record of success. Many of these current business owners contribute their time and goods to community organizations and events and have proven themselves to be good corporate citizens. We’ve already “voted with our dollars” over the years in support of them.

This is the kind of thinking we need from our City Council and city officials. We need to “be Belfastian” (in other words, creative and innovative) ― and fair ― in our economic development.

Linda Buckmaster